by Open Letter
From the author of Winter in Sokcho, Winner of the 2021 National Book Award for Translated Literature.
Tonight is the opening night. There are birds perched everywhere, on the power lines, the guy ropes, the strings of light that festoon the tent . . . when I think of all those little bodies suspended between earth and sky, it makes me smile to remind myself that for some of them, their first flight begins with a fall.
Nathalie arrives at the circus in Vladivostok, Russia, fresh out of fashion school in Geneva. She is there to design the costumes for a trio of artists who are due to perform one of the most dangerous acts of all: the Russian Bar.
As winter approaches, the season at Vladivostok is winding down, leaving the windy port city empty as the performers rush off to catch trains, boats and buses home; all except the Russian bar trio and their manager. They are scheduled to perform at a festival in Ulan Ude, just before Christmas.
What ensues is an intimate and beguiling account of four people learning to work with and trust one another. This is a book about the delicate balance that must be achieved when flirting with death in such spectacular fashion, set against the backdrop of a cloudy ocean and immersing the reader into Dusapin’s trademark dreamlike prose.
Translated from the French by Aneesa Abbas Higgins
About the Author:
Elisa Shua Dusapin (1992) was born in France and raised in Paris, Seoul, and Switzerland. Her debut novel, Winter in Sokcho, was awarded the Prix Robert Walser, the Prix Régine Desforges, and the 2021 National Book Award for Translation.
About the Translator:
Aneesa Abbas Higgins has translated books by Vénus Khoury-Ghata, Tahar Ben Jelloun, Ali Zamir, and Nina Bouraoui. Seven Stones by Vénus Khoury-Ghata won the Scott Moncrieff Prize, and both A Girl Called Eel by Ali Zamir and What Became of the White Savage by François Garde won PEN Translates awards. Her translation of Elisa Shua Dusapin’s Winter in Sokcho won the 2021 National Book Award for Translation.
Praise for Elisa Shua Dusapin:
"A book full of delicacy and melancholy . . . sprinkled with meticulous touches."–Le Monde
"A masterpiece."—Huffington Post
"A vivid, tactile, often claustrophobic, and gorgeously written novel. An absolute joy from beginning to end."—Lara Williams, author of Supper Club
"Narrated in an elegant, enigmatic voice that skilfully summons the tenderness and mutability of an inner life, Winter in Sokcho is a lyrical and atmospheric work of art."—Sharlene Teo, author of Ponti
"Mysterious, beguiling, and glowing with tender intelligence, Winter in Sokcho is a master class in tension and atmospherics, a study of the delicate, murky filaments of emotion that compose a life. Dusapin has a rare and ferocious gift for pinning the quick, slippery, liveness of feeling to the page: her talent is a thrill to behold."—Alexandra Kleeman, author of You Too Can Have a Body Like Mine