Winner of France's Prix Goncourt award, this blend of crime, fantasy, sci-fi and thriller plumbs the mysteries surrounding a Paris-New York flight in which passengers touch down at JFK airport and enter a reality both perfectly familiar and utterly strange.
The Anomaly...lies in that exciting Venn diagram where high entertainment meets serious literature. Its plot might have been borrowed from The Twilight Zone or Black Mirror, but it movingly explores urgent questions about reality, fate and free will ... It’s a measure of Le Tellier’s masterful storytelling that he makes us wait all the way to Page 151 to find out what bizarre thing has befallen the plane in question ... it’s a second measure of Le Tellier’s skill that he seduces us into caring so much, even about characters who flit in and out of sight. He has a way of plunging us headlong into each story and then dragging us out, still blinking and obsessed, before immersing us in the next ... But his writing, well served by Adriana Hunter’s graceful translation from the French, is nimble and versatile. And it’s impossible not to feel tenderness toward the bewildered characters, with their valiant efforts to make sense of the unfathomable and to rewrite their stories according to the new reality.
It’s in the vertiginous conceptual abyss that opens up...that this already pacey and highly entertaining novel goes into narrative hyperdrive ... With increasing inevitability, police officers and spooks begin turning up to interrupt each scene. The reader must question everything that’s gone before, as this rollercoaster of a novel is also a gripping puzzle ... Le Tellier himself describes The Anomaly as a 'thought experiment', but if so it’s one that he pulls off with a rare lightness and aplomb. He and translator Hunter also tantalise with traces of hidden word games, with echoes of past literary greats ... With its thrillingly self-conscious genre fluidity, there are shades of Umberto Eco in this uniquely dazzling and thought-provoking, high-octane blockbuster.
Although Americans are frustratingly xenophobic when they make reading choices, The Anomaly, translated by Adriana Hunter, could be the rare exception. It’s French, but not trop francais. The book’s intellectuality is neatly camouflaged by its impish humor. Indeed, with its elegant mix of science fiction and metaphysical mystery, Le Tellier’s thriller is comfortably settled in the middle seat between Lost and Manifest ... Le Tellier writes with a heavy dose of his very French condescension ... But these broad bits of social and political satire — along with some silly drama involving emergency mathematicians — are the weakest elements of The Anomaly. (A scene showing a Trumpy American president struggling to understand string theory feels like shooting supernovas in a bucket) ... The novel soars, though, when it focuses instead on individual passengers from the Air France flight(s). In these chapters — each carefully dated to help us keep everyone straight — we see people struggling to comprehend this most incomprehensible moment of personal inflation ... In these clever stories and a handful of others, Le Tellier dares us to wonder if we could stand meeting the figure in the mirror. It’s what makes The Anomaly a flight of imagination you’ll be rolling over in your mind long after deplaning.