Here, translated into English for the first time, is one of the most inventive, talented, and enjoyable voices of modern France. Said by Le Monde to be “gifted with a wild, unprecedented imagination,” Jean Echenoz won the prestigious Medicis Prize for this startling original novel.
Cherokee recounts the adventures of one George Chave, the proverbial innocent who, in his pursuit of love and the mysterious Jenny Weltmann, manages to run afoul of the police, an uncannily large thug, a very deadly con artist (who happens to be George’s cousin), two inept private eyes (who happen to be George’s colleagues), a cult that worships the Sister-in-Law, and a remarkable knowledgeable (and loquacious) parrot. Written with freshness and verve, and displaying a Flaubertian talent for detail, atmosphere, and language, Cherokee is a humorous and savvy mix of Raymond Queneau, new-wave cinema, traditional roman noir, vintage Buster Keaton, and the rhythms of Charlie Parker (the book’s title, in fact, comes from the well-known jazz tune). The author’s comic gift pervades this fantastic tale: zany descriptions, burlesque coincidences, and wacky anecdotes make the novel a constant challenge and delight. At the same time, Cherokee is a beautifully crafted work of fiction that calls up every trick played by the detective genre, and it is maintaining the balance between these different levels that the book’s real achievement lies. In the words of the Times Literary Supplement, “rarely has the difficult craft of story-telling been as well mastered as here.”
“Compelling and fresh.” — The New York Times