Synopses & Reviews
First published in France in 1985, The Bathroom was Jean-Philippe Toussaint's debut novel, and it heralded a new generation of innovative French literature. In this playful and perplexing book, we meet a young Parisian researcher who lives inside his bathroom. As he sits in his tub meditating on existence (and refusing to tell us his name), the people around him--his girlfriend, Edmondsson, the Polish painters in his kitchen--each in their own way further enables his peculiar lifestyle, supporting his eccentric quest for immobility. But an invitation to the Austrian embassy shakes up his stable world, prompting him to take a risk and leave his bathroom . . .
Simply, put, Jean-Philippe Toussaint is one of the most original novelists working today, and will almost undoubtedly go down as one of the great comic writers of our era. Toussaint has been likened to some diverse artists (Jim Jarmusch, Samuel Beckett, Nicholson Baker), but perhaps the most apt comparison is to Charlie Chaplin, for a few reasons. 1) Like Chaplin, he turns regular-life situations into comedy by the slightest and subtlest exaggerations; 2) He loves stills, moments when our attention freezes on some detail of everyday life and it strikes us as ridiculous; 3) His stories move from scene to scene with often only the flimsiest excuse for an over-reaching plot, although what we come away with is not just a patchwork of set pieces but rather a surprising feeling of melancholy. Toussaint's contemporary existentialism is as poignant as it is funny. As the narrator of Toussaint's novel Monsieur says in his closing line: Life, mere child's play, for Monsieur.
"An original and significant writer, whose fiction can be as engaging as it is surprising."--The Times Literary Supplement
Toussaint is a genuinely funny writer . . . small erotic moments are captured perfectly . . . makes me long for more by Toussaint.The combination of the absurd and the conscious intellect recalls such other French-language writers as Raymond Queneau in a style that is elegant, erudite, and joyously superficial.
About the Author
Jean-Philippe Toussaint is the author of nine novels, and the winner of numerous literary prizes, including the Prix Décembre for The Truth about Marie. His writing has been compared to the works of Samuel Beckett, Jacques Tati, the films of Jim Jarmusch, and even Charlie Chaplin.Nancy Amphoux has translated many books, including The Wind from America by Claude Manceron, Tolstoy by Henri Troyat, and Cambodia Year Zero by François Ponchaud.In addition to his work as a translator, Paul De Angelis has been an Editor, Editorial Director, or Editor-in-Chief at such publishing houses as St. Martin's Press, E.P. Dutton, and Kodansha America.