Solo Viola is one of Antoine Volodine's first forays into post-exoticism. He takes the reader into a fictional world where a variety of characters collide: three prisoners just released from jail, a band of circus performers, a string quartet, a writer, and a bird. All are trying to survive in an absurd and hostile environment of authoritarian spectacle, at the mercy of a tyrannical buffoon, and seeking the strange counterbalance of hope in a viola player, whose stunning music just might save them all, if only for a moment.
With the new translation of Solo Viola: A Post-Exotic Novel, Antoine Volodine inhabits the operating theater of the apocalypse. It’s a classic example of his post-exotic project. And there is alchemy in the night of surrealism. It’s dangerous to characterize the writing of Antoine Volodine because he so intentionally self describes writing ... [Solo Viola is] a novel with many clear modernist antecedents, articulated in a post-exotic voice ... the tension persists between the oneiric, the fleeting idealism, memories, childhood stories, the buoyancy of the absurd, against the interrogation of a damning authority ... Volodine’s post-exoticism deploys strategies for survival and reclamation. Through his dark ciphers, he finds a guiding light.
Antoine Volodine’s superb post-exotic novel Solo Viola imagines a society that’s one step removed from reality. With a narrative spiced up by absurdity and a dead serious message, this is a brisk, engrossing, and phantasmagorical take on tyranny and curbed freedoms ... Volodine’s arch, knowing prose chronicles a world that’s a fun house mirror image of our own ... Haunting and elegiac, Solo Viola has its share of whimsy, but it’s all in service of an earnest meditation on the dangers of fascism that lingers long after the story is concluded.
It's a neat, dark little novel, and particularly good at depicting the hopefulness of resistance while also acknowledging how much is so easily and readily crushed ... It's a worthwhile journey; Solo Viola is a fine small piece and example of Volodine's larger post-exotic project.