PERSONAL: Male. Education: James Madison University, M.A., 1993; Florida State University, Ph.D., 2003.
ADDRESSES: Home—Alexandria, VA. Office—George Mason University, Department of English, Robinson A487, 4400 University Dr., MSN 3E4, Fairfax, VA 22030. Agent—Alex Grass, Trident Media Group, 41 Madison Ave., 36th Fl., New York, NY 10010. E-mail—[email protected]; [email protected]
AWARDS, HONORS: Kingsbury fellow, Florida State University; two Bread Loaf scholarships; Walter E. Dakin fellow in fiction, Sewanee Writers Conference; Bernice Slote Award for Best Story by a New Writer.
The Third Translation (novel), Hyperion (New York, NY), 2005.
Fiction editor for literary magazines, including Southeast Review and Appalachee Review. Contributor to periodicals, including Glimmer Train, New England Review, Prairie Schooner, and Hawaii Review.
The Third Translation was published in Spanish, Italian, Portugese, Russian, Catalan, German, French, and Serbian.
SIDELIGHTS: Matt Bondurant's novel debut, The Third Translation, revolves around an ancient Egyptian relic known as the Stela of Paser. The stela is a funerary stone, broken in two and with some of its edges missing. The hieroglyphics on it have mystified scholars throughout the ages, and Walter Rothschild, a middle-aged American Egyptologist, has been hired by the British Museum to clear up the puzzle at last. Yet as his contracted time with the museum draws to a close, Rothschild has still not solved the riddle. The quest becomes more urgent when a young woman he meets seduces him in the museum and steals a valuable text for which Rothschild is responsible. As he seeks to retrieve the stolen document and clear his name, he is also pursued by a cultish group that wants to make use of his specialized knowledge of translation. He soon finds not only his reputation and career at stake, but his life as well.
Bondurant himself worked at the British Museum, where he became fascinated with the real-life Stela of Paser. Allison Block, a reviewer for Booklist, noted that the author's "extensive research has paid off in a literary page-turner whose characters are as compelling and complex as the Stela itself." Washington Examiner critic Charles Devilbiss gave the book a strong recommendation, describing the novel as "an ingeniously literate and incandescent historical thriller that mixes linguistic cryptology and translation with gripping success in unexpected and ingenious ways." Devilbiss was especially impressed with Bondurant's use of language, which he called "absolutely remarkable in its breadth. The words coalesce like the vivid lines of the glyphs themselves, to the point where you see them rise before you, a swirl of joyous wording that is rarely matched." Devilbiss concluded, "Bondurant has proven himself a master scribe here, and this text deserves to be read as closely and safeguarded as long as the sacred writings so intrinsic to his masterful work."
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Booklist, February 15, 2005, Allison Block, review of The Third Translation, p. 1058.
Kirkus Reviews, January 15, 2005, review of The Third Translation, p. 66.
Publishers Weekly, January 24, 2005, Natalie Danford, "Most Likely, to Succeed," p. 26, review of The Third Translation, p. 218.
Matt Bondurant Home Page, http://www.mattbondurant.com (July 5, 2005).
Third Translation Web site, http://www.thirdtranslation.com/ (July 5, 2005).
Washington Examiner Online, http://dcexaminer.com/ (July 7, 2005), Charles Devilbiss, review of The Third Translation.