Echenoz-2
2019 Longlist

Special Envoy

Translated from the original French by Sam Taylor
artwork-image

ABOUT
THE BOOK

Jean Echenoz’s sly and playful novels have won critical and popular acclaim in France, where he has won the Prix Goncourt, as well as in the United States, where he has been profiled by the New Yorker and called the”most distinctive voice of his generation” by the Washington Post. With his wonderfully droll and intriguing new work, Special Envoy, Echenoz turns his hand to the espionage novel. When published in France, it stormed the bestseller lists.

Special Envoy begins with an old general in France’s intelligence agency asking his trusted lieutenant Paul Objat for ideas about a person he wants for a particular job: someone to aid the destabilization of Kim Jong-un’s regime in North Korea. Objat has someone in mind: Constance, an attractive, restless, bored woman in a failing marriage to a washed-up pop musician. Soon after, she is abducted by Objat’s cronies and spirited away into the lower depths of France’s intelligence bureaucracy where she is trained for her mission.

What follows is a bizarre tale of kidnappings, murders and mutilations, bad pop songs and great sex, populated by a cast of oddballs and losers. Set in Paris, rural central France, and Pyongyang, Special Envoy is joyously strange and unpredictable, full of twists and ironic digressions-and, in the words of L’Express, “a pure gem, a delight.”

 

ABOUT
THE AUTHOR Jean
Echenoz

Jean Echenoz won France’s prestigious Prix Goncourt for I’m Gone (The New Press). He is the author of five previous novels in English translation and the winner of numerous literary prizes, among them the Prix Médicis and the European Literature Jeopardy Prize. He lives in Paris.

 

Jean Echenoz won France’s prestigious Prix Goncourt for I’m Gone (The New Press). He is the author of five previous novels in English translation and the winner of numerous literary prizes, among them the Prix Médicis and the European Literature Jeopardy Prize. He lives in Paris.

 

ABOUT
THE TRANSLATOR Sam
Taylor

Sam Taylor is an award-winning literary translator and novelist. He has translated more than sixty books from French including Laurent Binet’s HHhH, Leïla Slimani’s Lullaby, and Marcel Proust’s The Seventy-Five Folios.

 

Sam Taylor is an award-winning literary translator and novelist. He has translated more than sixty books from French including Laurent Binet’s HHhH, Leïla Slimani’s Lullaby, and Marcel Proust’s The Seventy-Five Folios.

 

NOMINATING LIBRARY COMMENTS

This truly original and funny novel is a creative re-reading of the spy novel, playing with the codes and conventions of this literary genre. It’s a mocking pastiche filled with irony, digressions and twists. Jean Echenoz’s fanciful imagination gives birth to a plot full of rhythm, unpredictable events and zany characters : an ageing general, a young and naïve woman trained to destabilize North Korean Kim Jong-Un, spooks and oddballs. The use of stylistic devices, verbal creativity, puns, tongue-in-cheek-humour, is typical of Echenoz’s narrative virtuosity. In 2018, the Public Library of Information ( Bpi) organized an exhibition dedicated to Jean Echenoz’s inventive prose and extraordinary fictional universe.

ADDITIONAL INFORMATION

Date published
07/01/2016
Country
France
Original Language
French
Author
Publisher
The New Press
Translator
Sam Taylor
Translation
Translated from the original French by Sam Taylor

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