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Manuela Draeger is one of French author Antoine Volodine’s numerous heteronyms and she therefore belongs to a community of imaginary authors that includes Lutz Bassmann and Elli Kronauer. Since 2002, she has published novels for adolescents.

Translator Brian Evenson is the author of numerous books of fiction. In 2009 his novel Last Days won the American Library Association’s award for Best Horror Novel. He lives and works in Providence, Rhode Island, where he teaches in Brown University’s Literary Arts Department.

Valerie Evenson lives in Provo, Utah, where she studies French and Environmental Science at Brigham Young University. “Our Baby Pelicans” is her first published co-translation.

pages: 136

format: paperback

isbn: 978-0-9844693-3-8

publication date: November 2011

In the Time of the Blue Ball

Manuela Draeger

Translated by Brian Evenson with Valerie Evenson

“Humane, impossible, homely and alien, Draeger’s extraordinary stories are as close to dreams as fiction can be.” China Miéville

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These stories introduce English-language readers to the detective Bobby Potemkine and his musical dog Djinn—and they come to us offering, among other things, mystery, romance, maritime-adventure, and a very angry noodle named Auguste.


Read reviews at The Rumpus and Necessary Fiction. Read an excerpt in The Collagist. Check out this essay on post-exoticism by Antoine Volodine at The White Review.


“With the calm strangeness of dreams, and humor deepened by a hint of melancholy, these wonderful stories fool around on the frontiers of the imagination. All musical dogs, woolly crabs, children and other detectives of the not-yet-invented should own this book.” Shelley Jackson

“In three short stories with a distinct Murakami vibe, hapless investigator Bobby Potemkine threads his way through his city’s meteor-shredded ruins to find out which of several women named Lili has really invented fire, what to do about an angry noodle named Auguste Diodon, and how to rescue the many baby pelicans that litter the roads. Every page introduces another curiosity in Draeger’s cabinet of wonders.” publishers weekly

“The stories are dreamlike, cozy, and creepy and wistful all at once. They remind me of Tove Jansson’s Moomintroll stories, if the Moomin adventures unrolled against a backdrop of subtle bleakness. Everything’s happy, yet you feel like everything is destroyed. They also remind me of Chagall’s paintings, if the paintings were hanging in a bomb shelter.” Sofia Samatar

“Draeger is a French author of adolescent fiction, but she’s also a fictional character created by Antoine Volodine, which is a pen name of an anonymous French writer. In Volodine’s stories, Draeger is a containment-camp librarian who writes stories for children, but in France she’s published without that backstory. Thank god for The Dorothy Project, who published three of her stories in the US in a delirious, playful Brian Evenson translation called In the Time of the Blue Ball.” tin house

“If you’ve ever read anything like Manuela Draeger’s In the Time of the Blue Ball, it must’ve been at least five green balls ago, because this book is strange and unlike other books.” The Review of Contemporary Fiction

“As with Roald Dahl and Dr. Seuss before her, Manuela Draeger materializes new phrases and places from nothing and inside of fresh and vastly imaginative stories.” j. a. tyler, pank

“Though it all sounds so cute and gimmicky, there is nothing cloying about it. These are bizarre, touching, delightful . . .” alicia kennedy, pank

In the Time of the Blue Ball is a book I often revisit. . . . In these anxious times we currently live in, In the Time of the Blue Ball feels like a salve. Here, life continues in the aftermath of destruction. Play and neighborliness and tenderness are integral to existence.” Janalyn Guo


cover art:

commissioned from Yelena Bryksenkova

Yelena Bryksenkova was born in Saint Petersburg, Russia and migrated to the Great Lakes eight years later. Her favorites include world exploration, fancy urns, books, elephants, folklore, elaborate textiles, Japanese visual culture, Russian ballet, Napoleon Bonaparte, silent cinema, and mysterious circumstances. In 2010, Yelena earned her BFA in illustration from the Maryland Institute College of Art. She lives in Baltimore.