Morelia by Renee Gladman


How does Renee Gladman manage to make language different from itself? How does she make space different from itself too? In this short novel there is an expansive mystery, but I don’t think it exists to be solved. There is “Bze,” but there is also fried fish. There is a city with structures in it that multiply or are “half-articulated,” where climate dictates how the city’s inhabitants move. Morelia is exquisite. And Gladman is, easily, one of the most intriguing and important writers of our time. –Amina Cain

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Gladman’s strange and hypnotic novella (following Houses of Ravicka) depicts a woman moving through a dreamlike world and trying to find meaning in its inexplicable shifts. Upon discovering a sentence in a language that “wasn’t English” written on a piece of paper tucked inside one of her books, the unnamed woman attempts to figure out what it means. She moves from one situation to another, often either without an explanation as to how she traveled from one place to the other, or with the explanation provided taking a surrealist bent. For example, in a scene where a man tries to violently extract information from her for an ominous figure named Mr. Otis, the narrator realizes she can escape through the man’s “eyebrows” and does just that, somehow. She’s being chased by Mr. Otis and “his goons,” but the exact reason remains obscure. Returning again and again to the mysterious and almost indecipherable sentence (which continues to appear in different places and in different forms), the woman believes that with each reappearance she knows a little more about it than before.

Morelia by Renee Gladman