August 8, 2022

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Bokomslaget til Anomalien og portrettbilde av Hervé Le Tellier

“The Anomaly” by Hervé Le Tellier – Reviews and Recommendations

Only some novels should be read without knowing much about them beforehand. Anomaly is one of these.

It can present you with some interesting surprises, which can probably be experienced as wonderful, even unrealistic, if you provide them in retellings like these we often use in book reviews.

But in the book, it is presented so gradually and cunningly, that one rocks only an understandable nod when revelation finally comes.

The novel is called a thriller, which is true though it is much more than that.

It’s also a vivid idea­The experience, with elements of science fiction and fantastic literature.

Almost like a teamwork between the greats of the absurd and the fabulous, such as Italo Calvino, Albert Camus and Douglas Adams.

The “perversion” has obvious elements of irony. It is not without meta-literary elements as it plays with the writing process and the rotating dance of the author in the literary ecosystem.

Author Victor, who is in the novel, is pleased to experience homage to the literary milieu for himself and his work – after his death.

How could such a thing happen? Simply because there are two Victor.

The other plane

The problems begin with a French airliner emerging from a violent storm cloud in June 2021.

The plane is on its way to New York, but is diverted by stunned air traffic controllers, for the reason that this plane has already landed.

This should not usually be a cause for concern. The planes themselves are constantly landing at airports on both sides of the Atlantic. This is exactly why they are called scheduled flights.

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The only problem is that the same plane also entered for landing in March of the same year. With the same crew – and the same passengers.

Who will get my roommate?

One way or another, a new identical aircraft appeared on the way across the Atlantic. This leaves deep marks in the understanding of reality for all those close to this phenomenon, which one rightly begins to call “anomaly”.

In addition, it creates very emotional and practical problems for the people on these two planes, who now have to come to terms with the fact that there is an extra version of themselves.

Le Tellier follows a group of eleven passengers on these (or this?) flights and their attempts to negotiate solutions with the alternative version of themselves.

They need to find answers to questions such as: Who am I, if there are two of me? Who is more than me? And who among us is going to have my things, my career, and my apartment? Not to mention my roommate and my baby?

These passengers are very different, and they deal with this existential crisis in very different ways. From friendly agreements, through something reminiscent of some kind of separation, or settlement of inheritance after, to the outright killing of the annoying multiplier.

Reality literature

At the same time, the stock of the world has run out, and the picture of reality is on. So much so that one could call this book the literature of true reality, that is, the literature on how reality holds together. Or perhaps rather: encrypted.

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Because it is actually conceivable that life is just a computer simulation. Or is it, on the contrary, the uneasy finger of God we feel behind it all?

Le Tellier is a French writer of the sophisticated genre, who before that moved into the avant-garde corner of French literature.

“Anomaly” was the ultimate breakthrough for a wide audience. The book has sold more than a million copies in his homeland, and the author gave it to him Goncourt Prize.

It has become a well-written and daring thought experiment, which convinces as a philosophical examination of the consistency of identity and reality, and as pure thriller and entertaining literature.

It’s a surprisingly good job.