The Extinction of Irena Rey
by Jennifer Croft
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Pub Date 05 Mar 2024 | Archive Date 29 Feb 2024
Bloomsbury USA, Bloomsbury Publishing
From the International Booker Prize-winning translator and Women's Prize finalist, an utterly beguiling novel about eight translators and their search for a world-renowned author who goes missing in a primeval Polish forest.
Eight translators arrive at a house in a primeval Polish forest on the border of Belarus. It belongs to the world-renowned author Irena Rey, and they are there to translate her magnum opus, Gray Eminence. But within days of their arrival, Irena disappears without a trace.
The translators, who hail from eight different countries but share the same reverence for their beloved author, begin to investigate where she may have gone while proceeding with work on her masterpiece. They explore this ancient wooded refuge with its intoxicating slime molds and lichens and study her exotic belongings and layered texts for clues. But doing so reveals secrets-and deceptions-of Irena Rey's that they are utterly unprepared for. Forced to face their differences as they grow increasingly paranoid in this fever dream of isolation and obsession, soon the translators are tangled up in a web of rivalries and desire, threatening not only their work but the fate of their beloved author herself.
This hilarious, thought-provoking debut novel is a brilliant examination of art, celebrity, the natural world, and the power of language. It is an unforgettable, unputdownable adventure with a small but global cast of characters shaken by the shocks of love, destruction, and creation in one of Europe's last great wildernesses.
Available on NetGalley
Average rating from 28 members
"The Extinction of Irena Rey" by Jennifer Croft is a mesmerizing and thought-provoking novel that explores the world of translation, art, and the enigmatic disappearance of a renowned author.
The story revolves around eight translators from different countries who gather at a remote house in the Polish forest to translate Irena Rey's magnum opus, "Gray Eminence." However, their mission takes an unexpected turn when Irena vanishes without a trace. As they delve deeper into the forest and Irena's mysterious past, they uncover secrets and deceptions that challenge their reverence for the author.
Jennifer Croft's writing is nothing short of brilliant. Her prose is rich and immersive, drawing readers into the lush and primeval forest setting. The descriptions of the natural world, from slime molds to lichens, are vivid and captivating, adding a layer of enchantment to the narrative.
The novel explores themes of art, celebrity, the power of language, and the relationship between author and translator. It delves into the complexities of translation, how it can be both an act of love and a source of tension among the translators. The characters are beautifully developed, each with their own quirks and perspectives, and their interactions drive the narrative forward.
One of the novel's strengths is its exploration of the blurred lines between reality and fiction, and the way it challenges the notion of authorship and ownership of stories. It keeps readers guessing and questioning throughout the story.
As the translators become increasingly entangled in their search for Irena Rey, the novel takes on a sense of paranoia and obsession. The tension builds, and readers are kept on the edge of their seats, eager to unravel the mysteries surrounding Irena and her work.
"The Extinction of Irena Rey" is a unique and unforgettable literary adventure that combines elements of mystery, surrealism, and intellectual exploration. Jennifer Croft's debut novel is a testament to the power of language and storytelling, and it will leave readers contemplating its themes long after they've turned the final page. It's a must-read for those who appreciate literary fiction that challenges conventions and leaves a lasting impact.
I approached “The Extinction of Irena Rey” with high anticipation. A debut novel by the preeminent, award-winning translator, Jennifer Croft, about a Nobel-prize worthy author and an intimate group of translators, set on the edge of the mystical, primeval, haunted Bialowieza Forest World Heritage Site. What more could you ask? Sometimes a highly awaited novel disappoints. “The Extinction of Irena Rey '' does the opposite.
Croft weaves a tale that combines secrets about the art (and drama) of translation with a beguiling literary mystery with twists and turns throughout. The characters are wonderfully drawn. The mood is complex. Every moment feels like you are safe at the hands of a master. The meta-fictional narrative is sophisticated with a blend of hyper-realism and magic. The humor is subtle and witty. There are photos that must be studied and footnotes that must be read.
“The Extinction of Irena Rey” is simply delightful. Highly recommended.
Thanks to Bloomsbury and NetGalley for the eARC.
This was a unique concept and I was invested in what was going on with the characters. I wanted to know what happened to Irena Rey. It had a great concept overall and thought the whole cast worked overall. Jennifer Croft has a great feel to it and I enjoyed getting to read this.
It's such a pleasure to read a book where the author pays exquisite attention to every word. This is a book I'll be reading again, many times.
"The Extinction of Irena Rey" by Jennifer Croft is a meta book in the best way possible - this spellbinding story explores the art and mystery of translating while creating a locked room murder mystery. It's not always an easy read, but the best and most interesting stories are work aren't they?
In Extinction, our narrator for the most part is the original Translator (called "Spanish" but her name is Emi) - she provides comic relief, sharp insight and extra detail. At the start of the novel the main translator and the translators from other countries have come together in Warsaw to Irena Ray's home to read and translate her work, her magnum opus. It is expected that this work will win the Nobel and they are all incredibly excited. Irena takes them to the forest and they gladly follow as they revere her. But they quickly confused when she disappears. There is plenty of comic relief as Serbian, Sweden, English, French, German, Slovenian, Spanish and Ukrainian argue about what to do. Because of course that's how Emi would relay them, only by their translating language.
What happens next is a true work of art ! The account continues as Emi (Spanish), details their investigation. As time passes, the translators are quite surprised of Irena Rey's secrets. In addition there is a mysterious poster https://jenniferlcroft.com/amadou-2#/emilia-ambrogis-secret-instagram-account/ that Jennifer Croft has included on her own webpage.
Emil and Alexis(English) bicker in the footnotes As they delve deeper into the forest and Irena's mysterious past, they uncover secrets and deceptions that challenge their reverence for the author and the plot thickens as October, The Nobel Announcement time comes closer.
Since I started reviewing books I have taken the time to read about the authors - whether they include it in the book or if other have reported upon them. Jennifer Croft is a pretty famous translator : https://www.nytimes.com/2022/02/11/books/literary-translation-translators-jennifer-croft.html. and has translated for a Nobel Prize winner herself!
Croft knows what she is talking about and she has done it in unique and irrepressibly charming way!
#bloomsbury #jennifercroft #theextinctionofirenadelrey
The titular Irena Rey, a renowned and outspoken author, reassembles her trusted group of translators to begin work on her latest novel. Soon, she disappears and leaves the group without a purpose or guiding light. Speculations arise, relationships evolve, and truths unravel in haunting and brilliant ways. Croft's story is as alluring and eerie as the book's mythical and primeval forest backdrop and an excellent addition to her already stellar bibliography!