Edmond Jabès (1912-1991) is widely regarded as one of France’s most important writers of the 20th century. Born in Cairo, he settled in France after being expelled from Egypt with other Jews during the 1956 Suez Crisis. Rosmarie Waldrop is Jabès’s primary English translator. Over the course of her long association and friendship with Jabès, Waldrop developed a very nuanced understanding of his work that in turn influenced her development as both writer and translator. Lavish Absence is a book-length essay with a triple focus: it is a memoir of Jabès as Waldrop knew him, it is both an homage to and an explication of Jabès’s work, and it is a meditation on the process of translation. The writing interweaves these topics, evoking Jabès’s own interest in the themes of exile and nomadism.