Francis Mirkovic, a French Intelligence Services agent for fifteen years, is travelling first class on the train from Milan to Rome. Handcuffed to the luggage rack above him is a briefcase containing a wealth of information about the war criminals, terrorists and arms dealers of the Zone - the Mediterranean region, from Barcelona to Beirut, from Algiers to Trieste, which has become his speciality - to sell to the Vatican. Exhausted by alcohol and amphetamines, he revisits the violent history of the Zone and his own participation in that violence, beginning as a mercenary fighting for a far-right Croatian militia in the 1990s. One of the truly original books of the decade, and written as a single, hypnotic, propulsive, physically irresistible sentence, Mathias Enard's Zone is an Iliad for our time, an extraordinary and panoramic view of violent conflict and its consequences in the twentieth century and beyond. Chapters and fullstops are replaced by milestones at the cities along the route.
English translation by Charlotte Mandell