Passengers on flight A006

The Anomaly

by Hervé Le Tellier

Gallimard, 338 p., € 20

Making the choice to juxtapose, in a novel, the trajectories of several strangers, the writers titillate the curiosity of the readers: what will be the link between these characters? At this little game, Hervé Le Tellier dazzles by giving these men, women and a child a density that immediately attaches to their destiny in pages whose style matches their respective identities.

Blake, a hit man, has mastered the art of the double life to perfection. A writer, Victor Miesel, carries the nostalgia of a barely crossed woman and, in his pocket, a red Lego brick from a fortified castle that as a child he could not finish with his father, who died too soon. . In a mismatched couple, a sixty-year-old architect wants to see his young companion’s coldness as a moving reserve. There will also come a man who learns of his cancer from his doctor brother, a girl who finds her missing frog parched, an ambitious lawyer brought to make a pact with the devil, a Nigerian singer who has to keep silent an entire part of his life.

But it is around the point common to all these existences that Hervé Le Tellier captivates the most. All were on board a Paris-New York flight on March 10, 2021, on an Air France Boeing 787, caught in a hail storm and turbulence of incredible violence. All are then thrown into the heart of an event so insane that the American authorities will do everything to hide it from the world.

Over the desire to reveal the formidable “anomaly” of the novel (in the running for the Goncourt) prevails the desire to keep entire the surprise of those who read it. Especially since the interest of this thrilling thriller, haunting literary work, is far from being reduced to this revelation. Sometimes disillusioned, humor here forges a strong bond between the reader and the author who constantly appeals to his intelligence without ever losing it. His erudite pen summons with verve scientists of all stripes and representatives of the main religions to grasp the enigma of flight A006 and try to solve it. We will hardly be surprised that Hervé Le Tellier, a mathematician by training and member of the Oulipo, gives more weight to the former than to the latter.

Translator of a fictitious work, Liquid tales by Jaime Montestrela, a Portuguese author whose biography he also invented, the writer has fun here, without losing any of the power of a very controlled narration, to embed another novel in his own in an exciting mise en abyme . He mocks the metaphors and supposed flaws in the eyes of the editor of Victor Miesel, a paper alter ego twenty years his junior, and blurs the tracks to the last cheerful lines.


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