Gloria Vynil

Rose-Marie Pagnard

French, Editions Zoé, Chêne-Bourg, 2021

[…] amnesia, even if it only relates to a very short period of time and even if it is only as steadfast as a bit of jelly trembling in the palm of one’s hand, amnesia can trigger a bout of anxiety, no matter where, no matter when.

Gloria Vynil has her whole life ahead of her. The young, talented and imaginative photographer and daydreamer has lived with her aunt Ghenya ever since the death of both her parents. Her mind is teeming with ideas and her head is spinning with projects. Yet, Gloria is missing something, has a tiny gap in her memory: the recollection of a traumatic event that nonetheless haunts the novel’s every page. As short a time as this episode may have lasted, this moment of oblivion is enough to plunge her into a turbulent world full of uncertainty and wild fantasies.

Her anxiety is all the more pronounced since everyone knows something of which Gloria is unaware: her aunt – her guardian angel – does, her five brothers do, and even the reader knows it, as they watch the drama unfold from the very first passage of the novel.

Here, Rose-Marie Pagnard further develops the character of Gloria Vynil, who readers already encountered in her earlier novels as a person of unbelievable wealth: yet, she is torn between obsessing about the lacunae in her recollection, and brimming with inspiration that stems from her inner world.

Beyond depicting a family drama, Pagnard offers a captivating reflection on memory and the role of art in the face of forgetting. After stumbling across a poster announcing the shutdown of the Museum of Natural History, Gloria becomes fixated on the idea of saving it by immortalizing it in her photographs. As she roams through the museum’s deserted corridors, a place sometimes described as a theatre, at other times as a zoo, but always “teeming with fictitious lives”, Gloria meets Arthur. Arthur is a flamboyant hyperrealist painter who has set himself the same crazy mission, namely to save the museum’s each and every specimen through the medium of painting. Gloria instantly falls in love with him and her love, as pure as it is passionate, is reciprocated.

Taking the hand Gloria Vynil extends to the reader, means to embark with her on a journey through her life, into a surreal world filled with unforgettable characters – from the psychic who lacks the gift of clairvoyance to the music-loving taxi driver – and inanimate objects which need but a glimpse of the eye to come to life.

Text by Valentin Kolly

Gloria Vynil
Editions Zoé, Chêne-Bourg
Translation rights
Agence Astier-Pécher, Laure Pécher,
Publication date
February 2021


Rose-Marie Pagnard

Rose-Marie Pagnard juggles the tragic and the funny with great intelligence to tell us about our need for love. Her books include La Période Fernandez (1988, Actes Sud, Prix Dentan), Dans la forêt la mort s’amuse (1999, Actes Sud, Prix Schiller), Janice Winter (2003, Editions du Rocher, Points Seuil), J’aime ce qui vacille (2013, Zoé, Swiss Literature Award).

© Romain Guélat / éditions Zoé