Donate opens in a new window


by Frédéric Boyer

Translated by Joanna Howard, Nicholas Bredie



About the Author

Frédéric Boyer is the author of more than 30 books, and numerous works of translation. His hybrid works are distinct: oscillating between poetry and prose, personal writings, essays and re-interpretation and translation of major ancient texts. His recent works include Dans ma prarie: Western (P.O.L, 2014) Personne ne muerte Jamais (P.O.L. 2012), Vaches (P.O.L 2008) and a first play, Phèdre les oiseaux (P.O.L, 2012). Boyer won the Prix du Livre inter in 1993 for his novel Des choses idiotes et douces, and the Prix Jules Janin de l’Académie française for his new translation of Confessions by Saint Augustin (Les Aveux, P.O.L, 2008). Other recent works include new translations/reinterpretations of Chanson du Roland (Rappeler Roland, P.O.L. 2013), Saint-Augustine’s Confessions, Shakespeare’s Sonnets, and the Bible (in collaboration with Olivier Cadiot, Jean Echenoz, Jacques Roubaud, Marie NDiaye, Valère Novarina and others published by Bayard, 2001). In 2010, his new translation of Richard II by W. Shakespeare (P.O.L, 2010), featuring Denis Podalydès and directed by Jean-Baptiste Sastre, was presented at the Festival d’Avignon. It also brought about his debut as an actor. His first play Phèdre les oiseaux (P.O.L, 2012) was presented at the Théâtre de Lorient and at the Centre dramatique de Châteauvallon.

Joanna Howard is the author of Foreign Correspondent (Counterpath, 2013), On the Winding Stair (Boa Editions, 2009) and In the Colorless Round (Noemi Press, 2006). She also co-translated Walls (Anamneses), by Marcel Cohen (Black Square, 2009). She lives in Providence, RI and teaches at Brown University.

Nicholas Bredie graduated from Brown’s Literary Arts Program in 2009. His writing has appeared in The Believer, The Brooklyn RailThe Fairy Tale Review, Opium, Puerto del Sol and elsewhere. He currently lives in Los Angeles.



In this delightful translation, Frédéric Boyer‘s Cows are both animal and occasion—for thought, sorrow, accusation, nostalgia, and annihilation. With humor at once deadpan and sincere, that which is cow and that which is not-cow provide opportunities for human minds and behaviors to reveal themselves, in pleasurable bursts of brief meditations. I am grateful to Bredie and Howard for bringing this strange, memorable text into English, where it will undoubtedly charm and unsettle many new readers.

Heather Christle

The cow is perhaps an unlikely hero(ine), but through a subtle blend of rumination, imagination, and compassion, Frédéric Boyer builds, layer upon layer, a new sense of the cow, even a sensibility of cow, that allows it to become a reference to and a reflection of an ambient and tremendous potential—while also reflecting and referencing equally tremendous human folly and error, asking impossible questions with clear answers that we’re unable to give. Bredie’s and Howard’s translation masterfully captures the subtleties and nuances of Boyer’s fluid language, bringing out not only his images and ideas but also the many layers of insight and emotion that drive them.

Cole Swenson