cover image Yoga


Emmanuel Carrére, trans. from the French by John Lambert. Farrar, Straus and Giroux, $27 (336p) ISBN 978-0-374-60494-3

French novelist Carrére follows his masterful The Kingdom with an unusual, winding work that straddles genres as he reflects on depression and love. The action begins in 2015 with the lead—a French writer in his early 60s who strikes an uncanny resemblance to Carrére, aside from certain invented aspects throughout—participating in a silent meditation retreat to write a book on yoga. After three days of breath and focus, the Charlie Hebdo attack occurs, and the narrator is summoned back to Paris to speak at the funeral of a friend who was killed in the shooting. From there, he suffers a psychotic breakdown, is hospitalized, and goes through ECT. As he recovers, he spends time teaching English to refugees on a small Greek island with a partially invented character as a companion, and has an unexpected final meeting with a mysterious woman with whom he’d once had an affair. Published as a novel in France, Carrére’s book was besieged by controversy in 2020 due to the condition of the author’s divorce that his ex-wife not be mentioned. Yet throughout, their separation is a shadowy presence. Regardless of what’s fact or fiction, Carrére remains a fascinating character on the page, and his lithe confessional writing will resonate with longtime fans. The result is another marvelous creation from Carrére’s boundless imagination. (Aug.)