Synopses & Reviews
A wild, Kafka-esque romp through a dystopian landscape, probing thedarkly comic nature of the human condition.
The Investigator is a man quite like any other. He is balding, of medium build, dresses conservatively—in short, he is unremarkable in every way. He has been assigned to conduct an Investigation of a series of suicides (twenty-two in the past eighteen months) that have taken place at the Enterprise, a huge, sprawling complex located in an unnamed Town. The Investigator's train is delayed, and when he finally arrives, there's no one to pick him up at the station. It is alternating rain and snow, it's getting late, and there are no taxis to be seen. Off sets the Investigator, alone, into the night, unsure quite how to proceed.
So begins the Investigator's series of increasingly frustrating attempts to fulfill his task. In the course of hours of wandering looking for the entrance to The Enterprise, he bumps into a stranger hurrying past and spills open his luggage, soaking his clothes. When he finally reaches the Enterprise, he is told he does not posses the proper authorization documents to enter after regular hours. Asking for directions to a hotel, he is informed "We're not the Tourist Office," and must set off to find one himself. Time and time again, regulations hamstring him, street layouts befuddle him, and all the while he senses someone watching him, recording his every movement.
In a highly original work that is both absorbing and fascinating, Claudel undertakes a sweeping critique of the contemporary world through a variety of modes. Like Kafka, Beckett, and Huxley, he has crafted a dark fable that evokes the absurdity and alienation of existence with piercing intelligence and considerable humor.
A Kirkus Reviews Best Book of the Year
The Investigator, a humble and ordinary man, has been ordered to conduct an Investigation into a series of suicides that have taken place at the Enterprise—a huge, sprawling complex in an unnamed Town. But the Investigator’s train is delayed. When he finally arrives, no one is there to meet him at the station. When he reaches the Enterprise, he is denied entrance. The harder the Investigator tries to fulfill his task, the more senseless obstacles he encounters: regulations hamstring him, street layouts befuddle him, and—perhaps most unnervingly—he senses someone watching and recording his every movement. In this highly original and absorbing work, Claudel turns his masterful storytelling toward a sweeping critique of the contemporary world. Like Kafka, Beckett, and Huxley, Claudel’s dark fable shows that the most looming questions of our time can only be countered with piercing intelligence and considerable humor.
About the Author
Philippe Claudel is the author of many novels, including Brodeck, which won the Prix Goncourt des Lycéens in 2007 and the Independent Foreign Fiction Prize in 2010. His novel By a Slow River has been translated into thirty-two languages and was awarded the Prix Renaudot in 2003 and the Elle Readers’ Literary Prize in 2004. Claudel also wrote and directed the 2008 film I’ve Loved You So Long, starring Kristin Scott Thomas, which won a BAFTA Award for Best Film Not in the English Language.