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The Wind of Things


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An illustrated artist's memoir of the motivations, feelings, ideas, figures (including Samuel Beckett and Walter Benjamin), travels, and love affairs that have influenced his life.

About the Author

Frederic Pajak (b. 1955) is a Swiss-French writer and graphic artist born in Suresnes, France. He has written novels and film scripts, and he is a painter, as was his father, Jacques Pajak. He has edited and contributed to cultural and satirical periodicals and is the editor of the highly illustrated biannual journal Les Cahiers dessines, devoted to graphic work ranging from cartooning to the drawings of old masters. But Pajak is best known for a long series of books of unique design which present his own full-page drawings accompanied by a biographical and autobiographical quasi narrative. The first of these works, which made his reputation, was L'Immense solitude (1999), which won the Prix Michel-Dentan in 2000. He followed this up with another similarly structured work, Le Chagrin d'amour (Broken Hearts), which dealt with Guillaume Apollinaire. Later subjects included Joyce, Luther, Freud, Nietzsche, Cesare Pavese, and Schopenhauer. In the same formal vein, Pajak's ongoing Uncertain Manifesto, which began with the present work in 2012, reached its seventh volume in 2018. Volume III was awarded the Prix Medicis (Essai) in 2014. Donald Nicholson-Smith's translations of noir fiction include Jean-Patrick Manchette's Three to Kill; Thierry Jonquet's Mygale (a.k.a. Tarantula); and (with Alyson Waters) Yasmina Khadra's Cousin K. He has also translated works by Paco Ignacio Taibo II, Henri Lefebvre, Raoul Vaneigem, Antonin Artaud, Jean Laplanche, Guillaume Apollinaire, and Guy Debord. For NYRB he has translated Manchette's Fatale, The Mad and the Bad, Ivory Pearl, and Nada and Jean-Paul Clebert's Paris Vagabond, as well as the French comics The Green Hand by Nicole Claveloux and Yellow Negroes and Other Imaginary Creatures by Yvan Alagbe. Born in Manchester, England, he is a longtime resident of New York City.


"[Pajak] meditates on the need to remember the past in order to understand the present...A complex portrait of the nature and power of narrative." -Kirkus Reviews

"The pieces are quite compelling, succinct and often just slightly off-beat (or off the beaten track, as is the case both with Pajak's personal experiences and, for examples, most of the parts of Benjamin's life he writes about), a neat mix of information and relfection. . . The writing is very good, even as the pieces can feel both stark and abrupt; still, a short chronicle such as 'Two Fascists' certainly makes for a very powerful read. . . Certainly of interst, and certainly engaging-- and leaves one curious about the volumes that follow, and the project as a whole." -M.A. Orthofer, The Complete Review

"Could Pajak be called an inventor [of the illustrated book]? It remains the case that Frederic Pajak has brought it to a new perfection." -Le Nouvel Observateur

"Uncertain Manifesto is amazing, funny, touching. You have the sense that for Pajak making books is a question of life or death." -France Inter

"What's so moving is the combination of thoughtfulness and dreaminess, thoughtfulness about himself and about the world at large, and then there's the mix of drawing and quotation, of dry humor and modesty. What Frederic Pajak gives us is a landscape in which thought moves." -Le Temps

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