Herman's wife and child are nowhere to be found, and the weather in the village, perfectly agreeable just days earlier, has taken a sudden turn for the worse. Tourist season is over. It's time for the vacationing Parisians, Herman and his family included, to abandon their rural getaways and return to normal life. But where has Herman's family gone?
The intriguing complexity...contained in her superb novel underscores again why she is one of France's most lauded contemporary writers ... Reminiscent of a Beckett play—NDiaye is also a notable playwright—this surreal narrative quickly devolves into a nightmarish fever dream. With adroit precision, NDiaye transforms Herman's situation, his choices (or lack thereof), his complicity, his feeble attempts at rebellion, into a biting, brilliant exposé on class and privilege, entitlement and hypocrisy, power and control.
...she explores throughout her work questions of exile, disjuncture, and belonging, often in fantastic and narratively disjointed ways ... In That Time of Year, NDiaye dispenses information to the reader in a matter-of-fact tone that belies the unusual circumstances of the world in which the novel takes place ... What at first appears to be a Kafkaesque fable about insiders and outsiders quickly morphs into a metaphysical horror story about the bonds between the living and the dead ... The novel shares some DNA with the Argentinian writer Samanta Schweblin’s Fever Dream in its embrace of the fantastic and as a haunting reinvention of the literary horror story ... it left me eager to read more.
...uncanny ... Herman’s story is compelling, inevitable, and, much like the village, easy to get lost in. That Time of Year is a hypnotic novel about the spell cast by a village on its inhabitants, willing and otherwise.