Synopses & Reviews
Fiction. LGBT Studies. African American Studies. A "linguist-traveler" arrives by plane to Ravicka, a city of yellow air in which an undefined crisis is causing the inhabitants to flee. Although fluent in the native language, she quickly finds herself on the outside of every experience. Things happen to her, events transpire, but it is as if the city itself, the performance of life there, eludes her. Setting out to uncover the source of the city's erosion, she is beset by this other crisis—an ontological crisis—as she struggles to retain a sense of what is happening. EVENT FACTORY is the first in a trilogy of novels Renee Gladman is writing about the invented city-state of Ravicka, a foreign "other" place fraught with the crises of American urban experience, not least the fundamental problem of how to move through the world at all.
"Gladman's murky, eerie new novel (after To After That) leads a linguist into a foreign city on the brink of annihilation and creates for her a lonely foray into self-discovery. In the dystopian land of Ravicka, people speak in extravagant gestures, maps do not correspond to landmarks, the streets are swathed in smoke, and people are fleeing en masse. The narrator linguist has flown here to tour the city, but her interactions with the few and far between inhabitants are more bewildering than enlightening. She stays at a hotel run by Simon, who tries to offer helpful information, and meets a succession of guides, such as Dar, a foreigner who knows the city but can't speak Ravic, and Ulchi Managua, a transient who despairs at the vanishing state of his beloved city. Eventually, the narrator immerses herself in the Ravickian national literary masterpiece, Waiting ('famous for its pace: nothing happens'), but is tormented by the imprecision of the translation, a feeling that won't be unfamiliar to readers of Gladman's alluring if sometimes frustrating narrative. (Nov.)" Publishers Weekly (Starred Review) (Copyright PWyxz LLC)
“Renee Gladman has always struck me as being a dreamer—she writes that way and the dreaming seems to construct the architecture of the world unfolding before our reading eyes. In EVENT FACTORY the details of her dream gleam specifically yet they bob on the surface of a deeper wider abyss we all might be becoming engulfed in. It has the strange glamour of Kafka’s Amerika, this book, but the narrator, lusty and persuasive, is growing up.” EILEEN MYLES
“There are passages in EVENT FACTORY which are furiously beautiful. The evening air is ‘tender’; the light is ‘yellow’; the morning is a ‘greener yellow at the start of the day but every moment growing golden.’ Everything the narrator tries to do ends in failure, but experience somehow happens anyway. And while it’s probably important for the critic to preserve the oddness of Gladman’s project, it must be said that Event Factory, for all its challenging images and language, is cheeky and hilarious. It makes great, unpredictable company.” Adam Novy, Dossier Magazine
About the Author
Renee Gladman was born in Atlanta in 1971. She received a B.A. in philosophy from Vassar College, and a Master's degree in poetics from New College of California. She is the author of seven works of prose—including ANA PATOVA CROSSES A BRIDGE (Dorothy, a publishing project, 2013), THE RAVICKIANS (Dorothy, a publishing project, 2011), EVENT FACTORY (Dorothy, a publishing project, 2010), NEWCOMER CAN'T SWIM (Kelsey Street Press, 2007), THE ACTIVIST (Krupskaya, 2003), and JUICE (Kelsey Street Press, 2000)—and one collection of poetry, A PICTURE-FEELING (Roof Books, 2005). Since 2005, she has operated Leon Works, an independent press for experimental prose and other thought-projects based in the sentence, making occasional forays into poetry. She teaches in the Literary Arts Department at Brown University.