Barbara Molinard


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The Feminist Press
13 September 2022
ISBN: 9781558612952
128 pages

From the publisher

Translated by Emma Ramadan

A haunting, bizarre short story collection about violence, mental illness, and the warped contradictions of the twentieth-century female experience.

Preface by Marguerite Duras

A close friend and protégé of Marguerite Duras, Barbara Molinard (1921–1986) wrote and wrote feverishly, but only managed to publish one book in her lifetime: the surreal, nightmarish collection Panics.

These thirteen stories beat with a frantic, off-kilter rhythm as Molinard obsesses over sickness, death, and control. A woman becomes transfixed by a boa constrictor at her local zoo, mysterious surgeons dismember their patient, and the author narrates to Duras how she was stopped from sleeping in a cemetery vault, only to be haunted by the pain of sleeping on its stone floor.

In the unsettling tradition of Franz Kafka, Djuna Barnes, Leonora Carrington, and more, Panics recovers the work of a tormented writer who often destroyed her writing as soon as she produced it, and whose insights into violence, mental illness, and bodily autonomy are simultaneously absurdist and razor-sharp.

“Startling and surreal. . . Ramadan’s translation is a great gift to readers.” Publishers Weekly (starred review)

"Surreal, mesmerizing, and darkly unhinged." —Astra Magazine

“These surreal, claustrophobic stories bear similarities to the works of Samuel Beckett and Leonora Carrington, but Molinard writes in a voice that is entirely her own… Through Ramadan’s spare and exacting translation, Molinard presents a terrifying portrait of violence and mental illness.” —The New York Times

“Barbara Molinard's strength is her ability to evoke our collective nightmares: being naked, losing a limb, being lost, and being unable to reach safety or love. Hers (and ours) are dreams in which others act with unexplained malevolence while we struggle towards something we'll never attain.” Barrelhouse

“Like Franz Kafka, Samuel Beckett and, yes, Albert Camus, Molinard is concerned with how life itself is inescapably mad… Not simply a patient returning the medical gaze, Molinard writes to and from the void.” Cleveland Review of Books

“Dispensing with the ordinary rules of time, space, and motivation that govern our everyday, [Molinard] calls into question just what it means to be human.” BOMB Magazine

“Notorious for having destroyed most of her writing, Barbara Molinard has given us a sacred gift in Panics. These stories are rendered with a mastery that directly conveys the preciousness of life. At the end, I found myself in a bit of panic, so to speak—how to go on having seen something so gorgeous?” —Morgan Talty, author of Night of the Living Rez

 “With its unique, haunting imagery and Kafkaesque momentum, Panics reads like a series of lucid dreams. A gleaming, razor-sharp book that has lost none of its edge in Emma Ramadan’s masterful English translation.” —Olivia Baes, cotranslator of Me & Other Writing

“Like the disembodied hands and faceless lovers in these stories, there is as much presented as there is withheld in Panics, Barbara Molinard’s singular collection. Marguerite Duras tells us that Molinard destroyed most of her own writing, and I’m fascinated by what’s left out, what’s left unseen, in this essential text.” —Stephanie LaCava, author of I Fear My Pain Interests You

“To read Barbara Molinard’s surreal, tormented, tender, and brutal stories is to dive into the wreck and then witness a singular talent at work. Lucid, horror-drenched, droll, absurd, Panics is perfect reading for the nightmare that is the present. A shriek from the archives, a gift to us all.” —Sarah Thankam Mathews, author of All This Could Be Different