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The Testament of Yves Gundron

Here is Yves Gundron’s account of the strange events to befall Mandragora. It is a desperate, primitive place—plowing, candles, even numbers larger than twenty are all considered modern innovations. Nevertheless, there was little conflict before Yves’s invention””the harness”“irrevocably transformed the Mandragorans’ lives.

Yves’s manuscript, which bears witness to these changes, has been prepared for publication by an academic named Ruth Blum—her notations supplement Yves’s story. But what at first seems a historical document proves to be something else entirely. Yves’s brother, Mandrik le Chouchou, the town mystic, regales his fellow villagers with exotic tales of his travels to “Indo-China.“And when Yves recalls the words of a song that is recognizably a blues lyric, we know that either Ruth Blum is up to something or Mandragora is not what it seems. In this sharply witty and adventurous debut novel, Emily Barton explores the two-edged sword of technology, asking what is lost in our fervent pursuit of modernity.

  • Publication Date: Jul 1, 2009
  • ISBN paperback: 9780743411486
  • ISBN ebook: 9781466824096

Praise for The Testament of Yves Gundron

Emily Barton’s debut novel is destined to alter the landscape of contemporary literature.

– Talk Magazine

An engrossing folktale that, in our technology-crazed era, ought to be required reading.

– John Freeman in Time Out New York

Fully and wittily imagined, written in heightened language that never falters of grows slack… Barton’s language is beautiful and shapely and . . . lovely touches of magic add a wonderful texture… A sly, joyous read.

– Booklist

A commanding and extraordinarily accomplished debut.

– Kirkus Reviews

Rare is the author who can reimagine the fall of man and make it neither tragedy nor farce, but something delicately and illuminatingly balanced between. Rare, too, is the perspective Emily Barton takes for the audacious fable that is The Testament of Yves Gundron. She invokes a world that teeters before a likely ruinous progress and asks: What does it mean to be modern? Is it the acquisition of technology? The abandonment of the past? Or the ambivalence of embracing and repelling the future? Her answers might not be what you expect.

– Marta Salij in the Chicago Tribune

Few emerging novelists–or experienced ones–could handle the kinds of challenges Barton deftly accepts in this triumphant debut.

– Publishers Weekly

Blessedly post-ironic, engaging and heartfelt–a story that moves with ease and certainty, deeply respecting the given world even as it shines with the integrity of dream.

– Thomas Pynchon

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