The Dark Library
By Cyrille Martinez (translated by Joseph Patrick Stancil)
As books become an increasingly endangered species in our modern culture they are also transforming into the stuff of fantasy. In such recent novels as Gene Wolfe’s A Borrowed Man and Jeff Noon’s The Body Library books even become characters with individual personalities, truly taking on lives of their own.
The Dark Library offers up another such alternative reality, with the Great Library and its various denizens under threat by digitization. Obsolescence beckons both employees, like the Red Librarian, and the books themselves. One of these, the Angry Young Book, has a particular axe to grind, one with a compelling generational edge. In the “fight for the cause of books” we can no longer rely on the golden oldies. Their time has passed.
Readers have changed too, first turning into users, and then becoming mere “sojourners” in the stacks. In the process, their memories have been wiped clean, leaving them feeling empty and alone. That’s sad, but there’s hope as well in this literary romance that places the future of the book in our hands.