From the International Booker Prize-winning translator and Women’s Prize finalist, a propulsive, 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 second outing by award-winning translator and author Jennifer Croft 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.
‘Croft writes with an extraordinary intensity.’
-Olga Tokarczuk, Nobel Prize-winning author of Flights and Drive Your Plow Over the Bones of the Dead
‘Mischievous and intellectually provocative, The Extinction of Irena Rey asks thrilling questions about the wilderness of language, the life of the forest, and the feral ambitions and failings of artists.’
-Megha Majumdar, author of A Burning
‘Generous and strange, funny and disconcerting, The Extinction of Irena Rey is a playground for the mind and an entrancing celebration of the sociality of reading, writing, and translation written by a master practitioner of all three.’
-Alexandra Kleeman, author of Something New Under the Sun
Jennifer Croft won a Guggenheim Fellowship for The Extinction of Irena Rey, and her debut Homesick won the William Saroyan International Prize for Writing and was longlisted for the Women’s Prize, while for her translation of Nobel laureate Olga Tokarczuk’s Flights won the International Booker Prize. She is the translator of Federico Falco’s A Perfect Cemetery, Romina Paula’s August, Pedro Mairal’s The Woman from Uruguay, and Olga Tokarczuk’s The Books of Jacob. She has also received the American Academy of Arts and Letters Award in Literature. She lives in Los Angeles.