Harry Mathews was born and raised on New York's Upper East Side but left America for France in 1952 shortly after graduating from Harvard. He has written over a dozen books including the novels Cigarettes, The Journalist, and Tlooth, along with collected stories, The Human Country, and essays, The Case of the Persevering Maltese.
Mathews is also the only American member of the Oulipo—the Workshop for Potential Literature— France's longest, and most active, literary movement. He divides his time between Paris, Key West, and New York.
Read an interview with Harry Mathews in CONTEXT
My Life in CIA
Through a series of improbable coincidences, in the early 1970s Harry Mathews, then living in France, was commonly reputed to be a CIA agent. Even his closest friends had their suspicions, which were only reinforced each time he tried to deny such a...
The Case of the Persevering Maltese
A companion to The Human Country: New and Collected Stories, this volume contains all of Harry Mathews's nonfiction. These astonishing essays cover a wide range of literary topics, including discussion of complex musical forms and Oulipian...
The Human Country
The Human Country collects all of Mathews's shorter fiction, including the early stories from Country Cooking, the mid-career stories from The American Experience, and ten recent, previously uncollected pieces that are every bit...
The subject of this unique book of short fiction is masturbation, a practice both universal and virtually taboo. In sixty-one vignettes, Mathews records the imaginative varieties of this solitary activity in prose that is playful, intimate, urgent...
The Sinking of the Odradek Stadium
Composed of a series of letters between a husband and wife, The Sinking of the Odradek Stadium is a brilliant comedy about love and longing, dashed hopes and frustrations, and trying to make connections. Newly wedded Zachary McCaltex...
Set in a Russian prison camp, this novel begins at a baseball game featuring the Defective Baptists versus the Fideists. As in other Mathews novels, there is a plot (of sorts), and here it is one of revenge. Our narrator/hero is a dental assistant in...
Cigarettes is a novel about the rich and powerful, tracing their complicated relationships from the 1930s to the 1960s, from New York City to Upper New York State. As we have come to expect from a Harry Mathews novel, nothing is as simple as it...
At a dinner party hosted by a wealthy New Yorker, a guest receives a gold adze, the coveted prize in a worm race. When the man dies the next day, he bequeaths, according to a stipulation in his will, the bulk of his fortune to the adze's possessor...
As an aid to recovering from a nervous breakdown, the narrator of The Journalist begins to keep daily records of almost everything that goes on in his life, from how much he has spent on books and movies to what he eats. As the diary progresses, the...
20 Lines a Day
For a period of just over a year, Harry Mathews set about following Stendhal's dictum for writers of "twenty lines a day, genius or not." What resulted is a book that is part journal, parts writer's manual, and part genius. First undertaken as a kind...
The Summer of the Elder Tree
With uncompromising sincerity, and in the same beautiful prose for which she is renowned, Marie Chaix here takes stock of her life as a woman and writer, as well as the crises that caused her to give up her work.
Silences, or a Woman's Life
When a woman falls into a coma, her daughter accompanies her through six weeks of agony, bearing witness to the prolonged death imposed upon her by the monstrous machine of modern medicine. During this final voyage through the fog, the narrator...
The Laurels of Lake Constance
It is 1936, and Albert B. is one of the first French citizens to join the Fascist party. During the war, he becomes a collaborator. It's only a matter of time before he dons a German uniform himself . . .
- Reading Louis-Ferdinand Céline
- Reading Harry Mathews
- Reading Ben Marcus
- Reading Ann Quin's Berg
- "The Author’s Prologue" from Gargantua and Pantagruel