cover image Delicacy


David Foenkinos, trans. from the French by Bruce Benderson. Harper Perennial, $14.99 trade paper (272p) ISBN 978-0-06-200436-9

Natalie and François’s perfect marriage is brought to a tragically abrupt end when François is hit by a car while jogging. Natalie mourns deeply for three months and then goes back to work, where she receives the unwanted attention of her boss, Charles. She makes it clear that she has no interest in him and seems to have no interest in men at all, until Markus, a Swedish man who works for her, reawakens her desire. After a kiss in the office, the two begin seeing each other. She likes Markus because he’s funny and doesn’t try to pressure her, and Markus can’t believe his luck at landing the most beautiful woman at work. But word of their affair soon spreads around the office, reaching Charles, who hatches a plan to promote Markus back to Sweden, leaving Natalie all for himself. Foenkinos’s first novel to be translated into English is delicate, funny, offbeat, and subtle, with Markus and Natalie as unlikely but realistically drawn protagonists. Foenkinos paces the novel well, breaking it up with songs, lists, footnotes, and other formal elements reminiscent of Nick Hornby or Rick Moody yet making them his own. (Dec.)