Vacant Lot
Oliver Rohe

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Set in a city much like Beirut in the aftermath of bloody civil war, a former mercenary relates his fate and that of others of his kind after the peace. The world is rapidly healing itself—people getting back to their lives, the city being rebuilt—but he is unable to leave the site of his crimes. Rohe’s narrative is striking in its understatement: much of the work’s power lies in what’s unsaid, what’s hinted and inferred. Sentences run on and on or stop short as if they’ve reached a dead end. Repetition is a kind of entrenchment, a being stuck, perhaps in the density of poetry.

Oliver Rohe was born in 1972 of a German father and an Armenian mother from Lebanon. In 2001-2002, he was the chief editor of the book section of the magazine Chronic’Art, where he meet Jerôme Schmidt, Maxime Berrée, and Benoît Maurer. They brought together various publishing houses, Editions imho and Inculte, in order to create the eponymous bimonthly journal Inculte in September 2004. Oliver Rohe is also the author of Défaut d’origine (Allia, 2003).

Laird Hunt is the author of a book of short stories, mock parables, and histories, The Paris Stories (2000), from Smokeproof Press, and three novels, The Impossibly (2001), Indiana, Indiana (2003) and The Exquisite (2006), all from Coffee House Press. A new novel, Ray of the Star, was recently released by Coffee House. He is published in France by Actes Sud, and has novels either published or forthcoming in Japan and Italy. His writings, reviews, and translations have appeared in the United States and abroad in, among other places, McSweeney’s, Ploughshares, Bomb, Bookforum, Grand Street, The Believer, Fence, Conjunctions, Brick, Mentor, Inculte, and Zoum Zoum. Currently on faculty in the University of Denver’s Creative Writing Program, he has had residencies at the MacDowell Colony and the Camargo Foundation in Cassis, France. He and his wife, the poet Eleni Sikelianos, live in Boulder, Colorado, with their daughter, Eva Grace. See www.lairdhunt.net.

from Brain Evenson: Imagine the world of Beckett—its focus on perception and reflection, its basic instability, its strange but undeniable rigor—and what it might look like were politics allowed to loom their way into it, and then you might have some sense of Rohe’s Vacant Lot. It is a book with all the thrust of experimental fiction and all the serious stakes of rendering the aftermath of unrest and war in Lebanon. Vacant Lot is a crisp but important little book that reveals cascading levels of complication as it progresses.

“Reconfigures the literature of witness and ruin…”: Gabriel Lovatt on Oliver Rohe’s Vacant Lot

AD Jameson on Oliver Rohe’s Vacant Lot in REVIEW OF CONTEMPORARY FICTION

Colin Herd on Oliver Rohe’s Vacant Lot

Vacant Lot
Oliver Rohe
Translated by Laird Hunt
$14.95, 96 pgs.
ISBN 978-1933996-21-9