Cruel Tales from the Thirteenth Floor

Cruel Tales from the Thirteenth Floor

Luc Lang
Translated by Donald Nicholson-Smith

French Voices Series

116 pages


August 2015


$17.95 Add to Cart

About the Book

In sixteen ferocious short stories French author Luc Lang encapsulates the brutality of everyday life. Each tale is an admixture of tragedy, comedy, ridicule, and pain. Compassion lurks somewhere, perhaps, but pity is conspicuous by its absence.

Lang’s curt, agitated prose disassembles daily life with a swift, unflinching hand and examines it with a sharp, analytic eye. Skinning quotidian moments to bare, raw impulses, confusions, and the agonies underneath, the stories in Cruel Tales from the Thirteenth Floor show the mundane grind of the everyday forces that are fueled by cruel calculation and amoral happenstance and shot through with bizarre surprise. The results are at once coldly comic and powerfully tragic.

Interpreting human interactions as a series of precise jabs and desperate flailings, Cruel Tales from the Thirteenth Floor tells truths about the darker sides of our potential and our well-meaning urges dimmed by chance.

Author Bio

Luc Lang is an award-winning French author of many works, including Voyage sur la ligne d’horizon; Furies; and Les Indiens. He has also published the startling autobiographical work 11 septembre mon amour. He teaches aesthetics at the École Nationale Supérieure des Beaux Arts de Paris et Cergy.
Donald Nicholson-Smith has translated noir or noirish fiction by Jean-Patrick Manchette and Thierry Jonquet, and, with Alyson Waters, Yasmina Khadra’s Cousin K (Nebraska, 2013). Born in Manchester, England, he is a longtime resident of New York City.


"A smooth, seamless translation."—Warren Motte, Washington Independent Review of Books

“An extraordinary fabulist of subterranean aggression.”—Christine Ferniot, Télérama


“Like Francis Bacon, Luc Lang sets out ‘to paint not the horror but the scream.’”—Jean-Claude Lebrun, L’Humanité 

“[Luc Lang] works with enormous talent on ellipsis and on the unsaid. . . . His electrifying writing presents events in all the banality of their ugliness or sadness: the firing of a good worker injured on the job, the foiled attempts of a superior to wrest sexual favors from a subordinate, the failing memory of an old man. . . . Lang shows the cruelty of the world without ever pronouncing the word ‘cruelty.’”—Les Inrockuptibles                                       


From the author: “One day in the early 1990s I heard a news report on the radio. There, in the incandescence of the facts, was a model for fictional narrative. . . . A woman pulls up in the fast lane of a highway and begins to change a wheel, as though on the hard shoulder. Just as she is removing the wheel with the blow-out, she is struck by a fast-moving automobile and killed, borne aloft along with her wheel, her jack, and her car's rear fender—bone, flesh and metal exploding on the hood of the other vehicle. Was she stupid? Was her psychological makeup to blame? Her mental state at that particular moment? Her age? Sex? Family history? Her psycho-socio-historico blah-blah-blah background? Who cares? Only the act matters, in all its madness, all its intensity. . . . The act in itself reveals and illuminates our whole world.”—Luc Lang, Délit de Fiction (Notes for a Poetics of the Novel). Paris: Gallimard, 2011 

Table of Contents



2. Sniper

3. Left

4. Initiation

5. Private Life

6. Flux

7. Mad Love

8. The Cold Chain

9. Sunday

10. Air Conditioned

11. Escalation

12. Face?

14. Dodging

15. Airbag

16. Rendezvous

17. The Lord's Day


A French Voices Publication

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