The Anomaly: A Novel - book cover
  • Publisher : Other Press
  • Published : 23 Nov 2021
  • Pages : 400
  • ISBN-10 : 1635421691
  • ISBN-13 : 9781635421699
  • Language : English

The Anomaly: A Novel


Winner of the Goncourt Prize and now an international phenomenon, this dizzying, whip-smart novel blends crime, fantasy, sci-fi, and thriller as it plumbs the mysteries surrounding a Paris-New York flight.

Who would we be if we had made different choices? Told that secret, left that relationship, written that book? We all wonder-the passengers of Air France 006 will find out.

In their own way, they were all living double lives when they boarded the plane:
                Blake, a respectable family man who works as a contract killer.
                Slimboy, a Nigerian pop star who uses his womanizing image to hide that he's gay.
                Joanna, a Black American lawyer pressured to play the good old boys' game to succeed with her Big Pharma client.
                Victor Miesel, a critically acclaimed yet largely obscure writer suddenly on the precipice of global fame.
                About to start their descent to JFK, they hit a shockingly violent patch of turbulence, emerging on the other side to a reality both perfectly familiar and utterly strange. As it charts the fallout of this logic-defying event, The Anomaly takes us on a journey from Lagos and Mumbai to the White House and a top-secret hangar.
                In Hervé Le Tellier's most ambitious work yet, high literature follows the lead of a bingeable Netflix series, drawing on the best of genre fiction from "chick lit" to mystery, while also playfully critiquing their hallmarks. An ingenious, timely variation on the doppelgänger theme, it taps into the parts of ourselves that elude us most.

Editorial Reviews

"Enthralling…a profoundly affecting examination of free will, fate, reality, and the meaning of existence, cloaked in a high-concept plot that could have come from The Twilight Zone or Black Mirror…exists in that most excellent of Venn diagrams, where high entertainment meets serious literature." -New York Times, Best Thrillers of the Year
"With its elegant mix of science fiction and metaphysical mystery, Le Tellier's thriller is…a flight of imagination you'll be rolling over in your mind long after deplaning." -Washington Post

"[A] literary phenomenon…[The Anomaly] swerves between various genres-science fiction, a thriller, love stories, an introspective work-without being confined by any of them." -New York Times

"Manifest meets Lost in The Anomaly…[a] puzzle box of a sci-fi thriller." -PopSugar, Best New Mystery and Thriller Books of the Month

"Humorous, captivating, thoughtful-existentialism has never been so thrilling." -Kirkus Reviews (starred review)

"A striking thought experiment…Le Tellier delivers some sharp social comedy here…But behind the comedy are more profound psychological questions about individual freedom…[The Anomaly] is priceless." -Times Literary Supplement
"An extraordinary mix of existential thriller and speculative fiction…This thought-provoking literary work deserves a wide readership." -Publishers Weekly (starred review)

"Buckle your seat belts, as Hervé Le Tellier takes you on an extraordinary ride. You won't want to put this book down until the very last page!" -Leila Slimani, #1 New York Times bestselling author of The Perfect Nanny

"A witty, erudite novel, teeming and minutely detailed, a treat throughout, with-at its center-that head-spinning conceit that will leave you deep in thought for a long time after reading the final page." -Nicolas Mathieu, Goncourt Prize–winning author of And Their Children After Them

"A uniquely, gloriously, provocatively French contribution to the sci-fi thriller genre-it will keep you guessing, get your heart pounding, and make you feel and wonder and-above all-think." -Sam J. Miller, Nebula Award-winning author of Blackfish City

"In The Anomaly, Hervé Le Tellier has delivered a volatile and compelling thriller that has you hurtling toward the mystery at the heart of the novel from page one. The Anomaly is a gripping and moving blend of Blake Crouch's Dark Matter, the television show Lost, with a bit of The Philadelphia Experiment thrown in for good measure. I couldn't put it down." -Terry Miles, author of Rabbits

"The Anomaly is one and ten novels at on...

Readers Top Reviews

One thing that none of the reviewers mention is that part of the book is extremely funny. This is the section that starts with the Stephen Colbert tv program and ends with the attack by the religious fanatic. If there was an event like exact duplicates of people suddenly appearing, the government would study people who had discovered in adulthood that they had an identical twin. The author, if he had chosen to do this would of course have shown that it is really not the same. One other thing, if our descendants a thousand or a million years from now have the computer power to simulate the world and seven billion people, I do not believe they would have the coldness or the cruelty to subject the simulations to the terrible suffering we see in the world.
Mary Lins
What a treat! “The Anomaly” by Herve Le Tellier is immediately captivating, wildly entertaining and engaging, witty, and mind-bending! What a ride! This sui generis novel is so unique that I don’t want to spoil the plot! Suffice it to say that it combines aspects of action-thrillers, Sci-fi, psychological mysteries and it even has a “meta” novelist character who wrote a book called “The Anomaly”! It’s one of those novels that had me asking myself: “HOW is he going to end this??” and then when the ending came I nodded and thought: “Of course.” I think a lesser writer would have indulged and made this story too long; Tellier resisted that urge and produced a perfect package of thought-provoking literature.
MSwansonKristofer Ca
Slogged through disjoint character introductions until 40% of the way through the book when the story started to progress. I finally abandoned the book at 60%, tired of waiting for something interesting to happen. If anything interesting does occur in this book, it’s going to take a while to get there. Good luck.
I really enjoyed The Anomaly. The structure is interesting and episodic. Imagine a season of “Black Mirror,” with each episode interrelated toward a conclusion, which may still leave some questions unanswered, but not in an unsatisfying fashion. Le Tellier could write a whole book about the Blake character. He is the perfect airplane book protagonist and I want to know more about him, and he is just one of the characters randomly put together on a flight that hits more turbulence than anyone anticipated, except for a couple of young geeks from MIT who anticipated everything, including the improbable and unanticipated. Not only does the plot have the typical twists of a thriller, it accompanies those twists with metaphysical twists leading the reader to go through some of the same dilemmas that the characters have to face. It is also interesting to get a French perspective on the American Alphabet Agencies. Only a French author would believe the US government is so competent. It will make a great series, but read the book and enjoy it, first.
The first half of the book is quite intriguing. The set up of the plot draws one in. However, there is no delivery of a viable conclusion. I found many pages unreadable. Particularly those situations set up in the White House with experts attempting to solve the occurrence of the two duplicate flights and passengers. I wanted to like this book as it had the promise of Cloud Cuckoo Land, however in the end it failed to meet that expectation for me. Perhaps it will appeal more to lovers of sci-fi.

Short Excerpt Teaser

It's not the killing, that's not the thing. Gotta watch, monitor, think, a lot, and-come the time- carve into the void. That's it. Carve into the void. Find a way to make the universe shrink, to make it shrink till it's condensed into the barrel of the gun or the point of the knife. That's all. Don't ask any questions, don't be driven by anger, choose the protocol, and proceed methodically. Blake can do all that, and he's been doing it so long he can't remember when he started. Once you have it, the rest just falls into place. Blake builds his life on other people's deaths. No moralizing, please. If anyone wants to talk ethics, he's happy to reply with statistics. Because-and Blake apologizes-when a health minister makes cuts in the budget, culling a scanner here, a doctor there, and an ICU bed somewhere else, that minister knows that he or she's appreciably shortening the lives of thousands of strangers. Responsible but not answerable, we've all heard that tune. With Blake it's the other way around. And anyway, he doesn't need to justify himself, he couldn't give a damn.
Killing isn't a vocation, it's a leaning. A state of mind, if that makes more sense. Blake is eleven years old, and his name isn't Blake. He's in the Peugeot with his mother on a minor route near Bordeaux. They're not traveling especially fast, a dog crosses the road, the impact barely alters their course, his mother screams, brakes, too hard, the car zigzags, and the engine stalls. Stay in the car, honey, my God, you be sure to stay in the car. Blake doesn't do as he's told, he follows his mother. It's a gray collie, the collision has crushed its chest, blood is oozing onto the tufts of grass by the roadside, but the dog isn't dead, it whimpers, sounding like a mewling baby. Blake's mother runs in every direction, panicking, she covers Blake's eyes with her hand, stammers incoherently, she wants to call an ambulance, But, Mom, it's a mutt, it's just a mutt. The collie sputters on the fissured asphalt, its broken, twisted body contorts at a strange angle, wracked with gradually diminishing twitches, dying right in front of Blake's eyes, and Blake watches inquisitively as the life drains out of the animal. It's over. The boy puts on a cursory show of sadness, well, what he imagines sadness is, to avoid disconcerting his mother, but he feels nothing. His mother stays by the little body, frozen to the spot, Blake's had enough, he pulls at her sleeve, Come on, Mom, there's no point staying here, he's dead, let's go, I'm gonna be late for the game.
Killing is also about skill. Blake finds that he has all the requirements the day his uncle Charles takes him hunting. Three shots, three hares, a kind of gift. He aims swiftly and accurately, he can adapt to the crummiest old rifles, the most misaligned shotguns. Girls drag him to fairgrounds, Hey, please, I want the giraffe, the elephant, the Game Boy, yes, go on, again! And Blake hands out soft toys and games consoles, he becomes the dread of shooting galleries, before opting for a little more discretion. Blake also enjoys the things Uncle Charles teaches him, gutting deer and jointing rabbits. Let's be clear on this: he derives no pleasure from killing, from finishing off an injured animal. He's not depraved. No, what he likes is the specialized action, the fail-safe routine that gels with frequent repetition.
Blake is twenty, and using his oh-so French name- Lipowski, Farsati, or Martin-he's enrolled at a hospitality school in a small town in the Alps. Don't go thinking there were no other options, he could have done anything, he was keen on electronics too, programming, he was a gifted linguist, take English, for example, all it took was a three-month course at Lang's in London and he could speak it almost without an accent. But what Blake likes more than anything else is cooking, because of those idle moments spent writing a recipe, the time that trickles slowly by, even in the feverish activity of a kitchen, and the long, unhurried seconds spent watching butter melt in the pan, white onions reduce, a soufflé rise. He likes the smells and the spices, enjoys arranging combinations of colors and flavors on a plate. He could have been the most brilliant student at hotel school, but Seriously, fuck, Lipowski (or Farsati or Martin), if only you could show some courtesy to the clientele, it wouldn't do any harm. This is a service industry, service, do you understand, Lipowski (or Farsati or Martin)?
One evening in a bar, a-very drunk-man tells him he wants to have someone killed. The guy probably has a good reason, a work thing, a woman thing, but that doesn't matter to Blake.
"Would you do it, would you, for money?" "You're nuts," Blake replies. "Completely nuts." ...