Thursday, May 15, 2014

SECRET EUROPE - John Howard, Mark Valentine

Tartarus Press have announced a new edition of Secret Europe, a shared volume of independently written stories by John Howard and Mark Valentine: "The stories often take place in borderlands, not only in terrain but in time too, and sometimes on the borders of this world and other, mysterious worlds. Many are set during times of upheaval – war, revolution, dictatorship - while others concern more personal upheavals. Each of the remote and relatively unknown regions is evoked with a fine sense of place, and we share in the lives of authentic characters who are faced with difficult, often dangerous, choices."

An earlier edition of the book, from Exposition Internationale (Bucharest, 2012) is now hard to find. This new edition adds one story, 'An Officer of the Reserve' by Mark Valentine, previously uncollected.

Secret Europe, a collection of short stories by Mark Valentine and John Howard is an astonishing work of fiction that effortlessly displaces the world we know with the world created on the pages we read. By virtue of strong, character-based storytelling, subtle prose and genuinely inventive strangeness, Valentine and Howard create a version of Europe that is not ours, but partakes of that which we know in such a manner as to be more powerful than what is real. This is a powerful book, well worth your time and well worth taking your time to read." (Rick Kleffel, The Agony Column)

“Howard’s stories and Valentine’s both give the reader the delight of perfectly detailed portraits of interesting and eccentric people.…a luminous quality permeates Secret Europe, and a sense of things not quite being what they appear to be on the surface. You’ll need to let these stories resonate and quietly take you over.” (Jeff Vandermeer, The Weird Fiction Review)

“Collectively, the tales are set during the tide of social and political unrest sweeping across Eastern Europe before and between the Wars. Small but telling endeavours are used by its citizens to undermine the governing parties’ grips on power….The historical and geographical knowledge of their subject, allied to the cool competence and tight, economical use of language united in tales not a word longer than required, suggests this …may well be Howard’s and Valentine’s best work so far.” (Mark Andresen, The Pan Review)


  1. I am thrilled that Tartarus has published a reprint of this book at a more affordable price than the original. It has been quite frustrating to be unable to read some of your books because I simply cannot afford to purchase them and they are unavailable in libraries where I live. I have absolutely loved everything you have written that I have been able to read and now I can add "Secret Europe" to the list. Your books, as well as your essays for this blog, have opened up a vast and strange literary world for me. As a result, my shelves are filled with shabby reading copies by authors you have featured and now I can add another of your books to my collection.

  2. Thank you. My shelves are full of shabby books too! Mark