The Speech of Flowers and Voiceless Things is a novel of absurdist political satire. In this work of literary fiction, a mistranslation in a single line of poetry instigates an escalating ripple of misconstrued text that threatens to culminate in a world war over five-pronged forks.
We follow the present lives and flashbacks of an ensemble cast of translators who comprise a secret philanthropic organization (the Association of Translation Liaisons of the Altruistic States) in the Sahara Desert. These precocious orphans, culled from every corner of the Earth, struggle with the inviolable dictates against artistic creation imposed by the monomaniacal philanthropist who is their founder. Illicit acts of art inevitably devolve into mistranslations, and this string of mistranslations in the village of ATLAS implicates the second locale of the narrative, Hacylon, which is ruled by a cartoonish, tyrannical dictator.
Amelia Carlisle, the copiously intelligent, firm-handed Secretary General of IBIS (International Bureau of Independent States), establishes the secret village of ATLAS in hopes of a more meaningful globalized network. Astor, orphaned at the age of seven after a factory fire in Egypt, is ATLAS’s first recruit; he is eighteen years old when the novel begins and is beset by a deeply ingrained savior complex and a rampant perfectionism. Natalia, once an amanuensis for a reclusive theoretical physicist in Poland, resents the ATLASian restrictions on her knowledge and ceaselessly plots her escape. Clarence, a world-renowned journalist who is second-in-command, is burdened by the guilt of his secret betrayal of ATLAS several years prior and its ramifications for ATLAS’s impending dissolution. Ezdehar, the hired counselor, is a haunted playwright who has been brought to ATLAS after a traumatic mental breakdown in Tanzania; she contends with her compulsion to flee and write her masterpiece.
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