Phosphor in Dreamland by Rikki Ducornet / ISBN 9781628974430 / 200-page paperback from Dalkey Archive
Wildly comic and perverse, Rikki Ducornet’s dazzling novel, Phosphor in Dreamland, explores the relationship between power and madness, nature and its exploitation, pornography and art, innocence and depravity. Set on the imaginary Caribbean island of Birdland, the novel takes the form of a series of letters from a current resident to an old friend describing the island’s seventeenth-century history that brings together the violent Inquisition, the thoughtless extinction of the island’s exotic fauna, and the amorous story of the deformed artist-philosopher-inventor Phosphor and his impassioned, obsessional love for the beautiful Extravaganza. The Jade Cabinet, Ducornet’s novel that was a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award, was described by one reviewer as “Jane Austen meets Angela Carter via Lewis Carroll.” Phosphor in Dreamland can be described as Jonathan Swift meets Angela Carter via Jorge Luis Borges. This is Ducornet at her magical best.
“Rikki Ducornet’s new novel is a delicious, spellbinding masterpiece. The exercise of her extravagant imaginative powers is rigorous, the richness of her writing concentrated to trenchant effect, and her enchanting narrative conducted with great intensity and seriousness. Phosphor’s bewildering, bewildered career deserves a constellation in the firmament of literary heroes.”—Harry Mathews
“Rikki Ducornet can create an unsettling, dreamlike beauty out of any subject. In the heady mix of her fiction, everything becomes potently suggestive, resonant, fascinating. She exposes life’s harshest truths with a mesmeric delicacy and holds her readers spellbound.” —Joanna Scott