cover image Elle


Philippe Djian, trans. from the French by Michael Katims. Other Press, $15.95 trade paper (208p) ISBN 978-1-59051-915-8

Djian’s slim, disturbing novel, already a controversial bestseller in France, is unsparing and fiercely intelligent. The book begins with narrator Michèle on her living room floor after being raped by an unknown attacker. Michèle, “nearing fifty, fiercely independent and unsentimental,” reacts to this assault in the same way that she meets most of the demands of her life: with incisive wit, brutal honesty, and an almost unnerving composure. In spite of the attack, she continues to manage a demanding career, financial responsibility for her son and her mother, and an affair with her best friend’s husband. However, Michèle’s assailant does not disappear. He breaks into her home while she is away; he taunts her with lewd and threatening messages. As Michèle tries to discover who her attacker is, readers come to learn of her family’s violent past and understand how this history shapes her present and how the present circumstances reshape her history. Djian’s bold novel, winner of the 2012 Prix Interallié and adapted into an award-winning film directed by Paul Verhoeven, is slight but packs a powerful punch. (May)