The Mysterious Flame of Queen Loana, by Umberto Eco

Winner, Lewis Galantière Translation Award
Finalist, PEN Center USA Translation Award
Finalist, National Translation Award


International bestselling and award-winning author Umberto Eco’s illustrated novel The Mysterious Flame of Queen Loana is “an insidiously witty and provocative story” (Los Angeles Times).

Yambo, a sixtyish rare-book dealer who lives in Milan, has suffered a loss of memory—he can remember the plot of every book he has ever read, every line of poetry, but he no longer knows his own name, doesn’t recognize his wife or his daughters, and remembers nothing about his parents or his childhood. In an effort to retrieve his past, he withdraws to the family home somewhere in the hills between Milan and Turin.

There, in the sprawling attic, he searches through boxes of old newspapers, comics, records, photo albums, and adolescent diaries. And so Yambo relives the story of his generation: Mussolini, Catholic education and guilt, Josephine Baker, Flash Gordon, Fred Astaire. His memories run wild, and the life racing before his eyes takes the form of a graphic novel. Yambo struggles through the frames to capture one simple, innocent image: that of his first love.

A fascinating, abundant novel—wide-ranging, nostalgic, funny, full of heart—from the incomparable Eco.

See book at Indiebound

See book at Penguin (UK)


“The translation by Geoffrey Brock is truly excellent.” —Tim Parks, The New York Review of Books

“Geoffrey Brock’s translation does a wonderful job of capturing the book’s simultaneously erudite and comic tone.” —Books in Canada

“A fine translation.” —Robert Alter, Slate

“Eco takes such evident pleasure in the creative process that it’s hard not to be caught up in his excitement and to marvel at the ease and lightness of his prose (or at least that of the translation from the Italian, by Geoffrey Brock).” —Shelf-Conscious (blog)

“Brilliant writing—with much credit to Eco’s new translator Geoffrey Brock—and wonderful illustrations.” —Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

The Mysterious Flame of Queen Loana is a special pleasure thanks in part to Geoffrey Brock’s supple translation of the original.” —The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

“One must take one’s hat off to Geoffrey Brock (who himself is a poet) for maintaining fidelity to the content of the book and keeping it as poetic as Umberto Eco must have penned it in his mother tongue. It is savvy translators like Brock that have kept the entire world in touch with modern greats like Milan Kundera, Italo Calvino and Gunter Grass.” —Greater Kashmir (India)

“Geoffrey Brock…seems on top of the problems of allusion and multilingualism the text throws up and his version is attractively light for all that.” —The Age (Australia)