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.
... pleasingly Gallic, with chapters weaving together comedy, melancholy, tragedy and a strand of noir ... No doubt you'll find yourself wondering how you would react if you were a passenger on Flight 006. Would you find your situation intolerable? Would you try to live with this new reality to the best of your ability? It is to Le Tellier's credit that these questions linger long after you turn the last page.
The Anomaly takes the narrative form of a script for a post-modern sci-fi made-for-television series. There are also elements of literary thriller and social satire. Unifying all these strands is Le Tellier’s admirable skill at keeping readers in suspense: for a long time it is not clear what this story is 'about,' yet he continues to draw us into an increasingly complex plot, which is laid out in a succession of clues and strange coincidences ... Le Tellier offers plenty of clever insights into the worlds of flawed people whose lives have now become matters of scientific curiosity ... The most absorbing aspects of The Anomaly are not generated by its complicated plot, but the world Le Tellier immerses us in. Each chapter is filled with exacting detail ... an entertaining philosophical critique, suggesting that nothing is as it seems, knowledge is imperfect, and the human predicament will perhaps always be more inexplicable than we can admit to ourselves.
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.