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Renee Gladman is the author of ten books of poetry and prose, most recently Calamities (Wave Books, 2016), and a monograph of drawings, Prose Architectures (Wave Books, 2017). Her entire series of fictional works set in the imaginary city-state of Ravicka are available from Dorothy, a publishing project: Event Factory (2010), The Ravickians (2011), Ana Patova Crosses a Bridge (2013), and Houses of Ravicka (2017).

pages: 152

format: paperback

isbn: 978-0-9973666-6-2

publication date: November 2017

Houses of Ravicka

Renee Gladman

“More Kafka than Kafka, Gladman’s achievement ranks alongside any of Borges’ in its creation of a fantastical landscape with deep psychological impact.” —Jeff VanderMeer, The Week

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Since 2010 writer and artist Renee Gladman has placed fantastic and philosophical stories in the invented city-state of Ravicka, a Ruritanian everyplace with its own gestural language, poetic architecture, and inexplicable physics. As Ravicka has grown, so has Gladman’s project, spilling out from her fiction—Event Factory, The Ravickians, and Ana Patova Crosses a Bridge—into her nonfiction (Calamities) and even visual art (Prose Architectures).

The result is a project unlike any other in American letters today, a fictional world that spans not only multiple books but different genres, even different art forms.

In Houses of Ravicka, the city’s comptroller, author of Regulating the Book of Regulations, seems to have lost a house. It is not where it’s supposed to be, though an invisible house on the far side of town, which corresponds to the missing house, remains appropriately invisible. Inside the invisible house, a nameless Ravickian considers how she came to the life she is living, and investigates the deep history of Ravicka—that mysterious city-country born of Renee Gladman’s philosophical, funny, audacious, extraordinary imagination.


Read an excerpt of Houses of Ravicka at n+1.  Read a conversation with Renee at the Los Angeles Review of Books blog.


“The Ravikian novels exalt the primacy of language to further imaginative possibility, which dominant and oppressive regimes would shut down. Gladman’s writing cleaves to the luminous. It slips through the gaps in our thinking to pluralise, queer, subvert, and mobilise. These books are strange but, through a bright and deft poetic obliquity, they shine an incomparable light onto our contemporary moment.” The White Review

Houses of Ravicka is certainly the most plot-heavy of the Ravicka series, with a central problem that never truly gets resolved, but its joy, as with the previous novels, lives in Gladman’s whimsical approach to crafting sentences and situations that are at once absurd and illuminating.” The Village Voice

“Gladman’s artful consideration of linguistic limitation is quietly smart, thrillingly unique, and, perhaps most impressively, translates into an thoroughly absorbing narrative.” The Paris Review Daily, “Staff Picks

“Gladman is more fantasist than estranging analyst. The quality of her dreaming, its interior abstraction, is exquisite. Its wonder lies in how closed its shutters are to any mundane world, how far back the lanes and alleyways of its imagining recede from the proper nouns and pedestrianisms of our lives.”William Harris, n+1

“Jakobi is sometimes a man and sometimes a woman; an old acquaintance seizes control of the narration and then gets folded up and put away in a pocket; an unnamed person who lives in the invisible No. 32 claims the entire second part of the novel to reflect on the history of Ravicka’s invisible architecture. These fantastical details add up in a way that might have more in common with performance or installation art than with the expectations brought on by the assumption of a story.” Kirkus

“Fourth in Renee Gladman’s ongoing series about a mysterious city, Houses of Ravicka is the best one yet, the story of Ravicka’s Comptroller as he searches for a house that has become untethered in space. Gladman’s novel winds up being a sublime, deeply poetic mood piece about what it feels like to be out of place even at home, or in one’s native country.” Culture Trip

“With the Ravicka series, the mainstay of Dorothy Project’ s catalog, Gladman produces an account of contemporary life that gains not only in relevance but also somehow in coherence as it accumulates contradictions.” Chicago Review

“[The Ravicka] books are absurd and surreal, and are stabilized by an eerie interior logic: Think The Phantom Tollbooth for adults.” The Atlantic

“Profound, compelling—haunting, even—the story of Ravicka is astonishingly ours.” Lyn Hejinian

“Renee Gladman has always struck me as being a dreamer—she writes that way and the dreaming seems to construct the architecture of the world unfolding before our reading eyes.” Eileen Myles

“Gladman’s talent for linguistic architecture makes for a supple, tight promenade through heady ideas whose appeal rests on the implicit connection it draws between a people, their language, and the shape of communication.” Publishers Weekly

cover art:

exploración sin fin: here we go by Gisela Insuaste (gouache and ink on paper, 20 in x 24 in, 2016)

Gisela Insuaste received her MFA from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, and her BA in Anthropology & Studio Art from Dartmouth. She has participated in exhibitions and projects in venues nationwide, including Aljira, A Center for Contemporary Art, Newark, NJ; Queens Museum of Art, Queens, NY; Museum of Contemporary Art (MCA), Chicago, IL; Krannert Art Museum-UIUC, Champaign, IL; and Bucket Rider Gallery and Thomas McCormick Gallery, Chicago, IL. She is the recipient of grants and awards, including a Richard Driehaus/Artadia Emerging Artist Award, Illinois Arts Council Artist Grants, and MacDowell Colony Artist Fellowships, and was recently nominated for a Joan Mitchell Foundation Grant for Sculptors and Painters. Recent exhibitions include Satellite Gallery at the University of Texas, San Antonio, TX; Cuchifritos Gallery; and ABC No Rio, New York, NY. She lives in Brooklyn, NY. For more information, please visit her website.