The legendary French anti-assimilationist gay writer Guillaume Dustan (1965–2005) worked as an administrative judge in France before turning to writing full-time. He is the author of eight books, including the award-winning novel Nicholas Pages. He was posthumously awarded the Prix Sade in 2013.
Published in 1999 and awarded that year’s Prix de Flore, Nicolas Pages marks a departure from the Sadean (Marquis de Sade) preoccupations of Guillaume Dustan’s first three novels; it is, in essence, a love story. Inspired by a failed romance with the Swiss artist-writer Nicolas Pages and collaging texts that Dustan initially produced for a wide variety of other occasions (magazine articles, short stories, project notes, shopping lists, and more), the “auto-/bio-/porno-graphic” prose of Nicolas Pages is by turns trashy and encyclopedic, corporeal and philosophical. Here Dustan inaugurates a “gay literature” that is no longer painful or shameful, but epicurean and cheerful without ever lapsing into idealism. A vibrant plea for gay rights and a tapestried text that is more than the sum of its many styles, Nicolas Pages is a call to explore the body, sexuality, and writing in all their variety; it is a hymn to life, humanity, pleasure, and desire. Translated by Peter Valente and James Horton
“Sex, sex, sex, sex, sex. Politics, despair, drugs, music, joy. Dustan remains the sexiest and most radical writer of the late years of the AIDS epidemic in France after Hervé Guibert. From the almost cognitive experience of anal fucking to the critique of social and family institutions, Dustan uses queer sexuality and writing to extract himself from the bourgeois context in which he evolved until his early thirties (he was a judge until he discovered he was HIV positive) to overcome the shame of being outcast as sick and to discover the joy of being alive. Intimate and ferocious at the same time, dazzling and unapologetic. Porn reaches grace and beauty. Dustan was my first editor and my master. Don’t miss his books.” — Paul B. Preciado, author of An Apartment on Uranus
“Guillaume Dustan has the novel straddle his crotch rocket and takes it for a joyride. The outcome? Equal parts fag Kama Sutra and La Vie matérielle. Libidinal philosopher, Dustan dances all night long, knowing ‘that if we’re here then it’s to live.’ With Nicolas Pages, he sets Ecce Homo to house music and goes hard.” — Bruce Hainley, author of Under the Sign of [sic]
“The point of gay literature, Dustan felt, was not to concentrate on ‘suffering’ but ‘to roll around on the floor and tell people: you’re not having your asses sufficiently eaten and you’re not doing enough coke.’” — Lili Own Rowlands, London Review of Books
“Guillaume Dustan is one of the most important writers of our time. He is also—and this is not the same thing, both qualities being far from homologous—one of the most exciting French intellectuals (which isn’t that frequent). Not only did Dustan narrate his life (well), he also reflected upon his time. Very few authors are great writers to such an extent, through the style, power and pure beauty of their texts, while simultaneously producing such a precise, radical, revolutionary, and informed reflection on the society around them, a society which remains, through his analysis, ours today.” — Constance Debré, author of Love Me Tender
“In 1857, Flaubert wrote Madame Bovary. According to Zola, ‘the code of new art was written.’ Through an unprecedented form, it announced the sensibility of the twentieth century. In his own way, Dustan places himself in the line of these visionary writers. His Nicolas Pages revitalizes modern letters to outline the contours of modern Being—that of the twenty-first century.” — Thomas Clerc, University of Nanterre
Publication Date: 14 Nov 2023