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Anomaly: a successful novel about the limits of reality

Anomaly: a successful novel about the limits of reality

Every November, there is excitement in the world of French literature when ten writers gather at the Parisian restaurant Drouant to award the Prix Goncourt as a jury. The award for the best French-language novel of the year is awarded for only ten euros, but it guarantees high sales in bookstores and translations into different languages.

With “The Anomaly” by current winner Le Tellier, an entire literary tradition has also been honored. Because Teller is the president of OULIPO (L’Ouvroir de litterature possibleielle, for example: Workshop for Possible Literature), which has been conducting literary experiments since the 1960s, where texts are created according to predetermined rules.

Write according to the rules

Building on this approach, Georg Beric wrote “La Disparition” (German: Anton Voyls Fortgang) in 1969, which does not use the vowel “e” once, and Italo Calvino “When Traveling on a Winter’s Night” (1979) which is A novel consisting of the beginnings of novels of different genres.

APA / AFP / Thomas Samson

Herve Lee Teller, President of the Experimental Writers Group OULIPO, was awarded the Prix Goncourt for “The Anomaly”

The 64-year-old Le Tellier has published more than 30 books, and now he has reached late fame. In “Die Anomalie,” a teacher mathematician reveals a weakness in the frontier regions of the exact sciences and the questions that lie there. The title “Anomaly” consists in the fact that a single Boeing 787 from the same Air France and its identical passengers landed twice in New York, once in March and once in June 2021.

String principle

The rule of the novel runs in the background in which it is addressed: “Three people, seven, twenty? How many simultaneous novels does the reader want to follow?” The answer should be: As much as the author can narrate in an interesting way.


roulette a hundred eyes

Herve Lee Teller: Anomaly. Translated from the French by Romy Rietti and Jörg Ritti. Rowohlt Hundert Augen, 352 pages, €22.70.

The way Le Tellier solves the problem he raises is impressive. It presents a figure by number, which identifies each one in a few pages and then moves on to the next page. “The Anomaly” works like a mystery series where one character is placed in the center of each episode and readers can only slowly learn about their connections.

There’s hitman Blake, who has the perfect front as a family man and small business owner. Then there is the unsuccessful author Victor Messel, who struggles with shallow translations of novels. Nigerian Afro-pop singer Slimboy has to hide his homosexuality so as not to jeopardize the rapper’s image. Single-parent editor Lucy is courted by famous architect Andrei. They all and many have one thing in common: On March 10, 2021, they will board Air France Flight 006 from Paris to New York, which is experiencing turbulent weather.

The world as a hypothesis

After the arduous but ultimately daily flight, they all lived as before – until the same plane lands in New York three months later. A totally strange team of researchers and experts has been put together to figure out what to do with these people — all without knowing it, like those who landed in March.

Physicists, mathematicians, psychologists, and Secret Service agents develop an uncomfortable hypothesis: Reality must be a simulation illustrated by this absurd error. Anyone who thinks of the dystopian sci-fi classic of the “Matrix” series isn’t wrong. Douglas Adam’s series of novels, The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, has also been cited. It is known that the question of all questions is 42, in Le Tellier, secret emergency protocol No. 42, developed by scientists after 9/11, regulates the procedure in the event of unimaginable events.

Programs and complications

In the story, told in easy language, there are complex plots and questions that accurately illustrate this madness: literature can tell in artificial worlds what is difficult to imagine, at least unsolvable.

From the point of view of fictitious Nobel laureates and Cabazonders, simulated reality must inhabit a lot of people who are in fact “software”. Do Programs Have Free Will? real feelings? love them? One of the great lines of this novel is that this class of ultimate questions should be passed on to the President of the United States, who is called Donald Trump in the parallel universe of “odour” originally published in August 2020.

Another consequence of the 350-page storyline race with psychological development and inverted traits is that many of the June characters meet and make peace with the Mars couples in very different ways. “Die Anomalie” is a great fun with a philosophical grounding, a book that’s set for a series production. Fortunately, Le Tellier has already signed the contract, as reported by the French trade magazine Livres Hebdo.

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