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The Investigation: A Novel Hardcover – Deckle Edge, July 10, 2012

9 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews


"French writer Philippe Claudel begins The Investigation with a postmodernist wink and nod ... The novel is frequently very funny, but it also skillfully evokes the insidious, modern fear that we, like the Investigator, are playing bit parts in some vast, incomprehensible system."
The Wall Street Journal

"Amusing and affecting ... Despite its far-from-realist mode and its parable of life under late capitalism, The Investigation is no allegory. It's too sharp and too funny. And despite its setting in a city that deliberately evokes all cities and no particular city, The Investigation resists every tendency toward ponderous moralism, instead marking each apparent injustice with a light, but never unsympathetic, touch."

Praise for Brodeck

"Arrives like a fresh, why-haven’t-we-known-him discovery, revealing Philippe Claudel to be as dazzling on the page as he is on the screen."
The New York Times Book Review

"A haunting, intensely claustrophobic allegory about intolerance, trauma, and guilt."
San Francisco Chronicle

"Deeply wise and classically beautiful . . . It is a modern masterpiece."
The Daily Telegraph

"Original, brilliant, and disturbing . . . Claudel is a novelist of ideas, in the French tradition."
The Times (London)

"In John Cullen’s deft translation, Claudel’s writing is lucid and passionate. . . . An excellent novel."
The Guardian

About the Author

PHILIPPE CLAUDEL is the author of many novels, among them Brodeck, which won the Prix Goncourt des Lyceens in 2007 and the Independent Foreign Fiction Prize in 2010. His novel By a Slow River has been translated into thirty languages and was awarded the Prix Renaudot in 2003 and the Elle Readers' Literary Prize in 2004. Claudel also wrote and directed the 2008 film I've Loved You So Long, starring Kristin Scott Thomas, which won a BAFTA Award for Best Film Not in the English Language.


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 240 pages
  • Publisher: Nan A. Talese (July 10, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 9780385535342
  • ISBN-13: 978-0385535342
  • ASIN: 0385535341
  • Product Dimensions: 5.8 x 1 x 8.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 14.4 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (9 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,344,115 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By A. Allen on August 14, 2012
Format: Hardcover
Review based on ARC.

Yup. I really liked this one. So I started reading it, and then kept reading it, and kept reading it, until I was about a third of the way through and realized i was starving. So we went to go eat.

Then I went home and kept reading it.

And here's where it gets trippy. Admittedly, I was exhausted... just... so .... tired. But, see, I kept reading. And I started questioning reality, and my existence, and WHY is that light so bright... and who's keeping my husband away from me? AM I real? What's happening?...

and, normally, I'm not that kind of girl... ;)

Then I was interrupted and was not able to finish until the following evening. Overall, I was very pleased with the book.

And, gosh, what's it about. It is almost an everyman type of story... the characters are identified by their duties. And the Investigator is sent to Investigate an unusual circumstance with the Enterprise. There are, to say the least, obstacles in his efforts to uncover the truth he was sent to investigate. I think I can safely say, just read it. I hate spoilers, especially any hints regarding this kind of book.

But I will say, there are the "surreal" aspects that other mention; it's just that it's more than that. It's an allegory and a warning, and a tale to which many of us can relate. Plus it's creative and thoughtful.

Interestingly, my break in reading the novel occurs around the same time as the Investigator's.... ah, discovery of sorts. The tone seemed to shift. It had a satisfying end. But it just wasn't perfect.

But I Definitely recommend the book.
(four and a half stars)
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8 of 11 people found the following review helpful By Holly Weiss VINE VOICE on July 10, 2012
Format: Hardcover
The Investigator, an average man like a million others, finds himself in a dystopian, unnamed city. His mission: to investigate twenty suicides. What he encounters is vastly different than anything he can imagine.

The Investigation: A Novel is a bizarre and oddly entertaining book. The reader is quickly swept into a bleak, confusing experience that mirrors the dark side of our existence. The Investigator's frustration in his attempts to do his job pours over the pages of the book. Claudel brilliantly reveals the bureaucracy and absurdity of the nightmare The Investigator finds himself in. The writing is full of pessimism and whimsy. The reader can imagine herself in this bleak dilemma and laugh at herself at the same time. Frustrations with erratic vending machines, stuck restroom hand towel rollers and dead cell phones give the farce a humanity we can relate to. Society functions in The Enterprise, but no real interpersonal relationships exist. Anonymity and lack of emotion pervade the society.

The poor Investigator is foiled on every turn. Random bizarre events happen constantly. He checks into a hotel and has his identification papers confiscated. He never can get his clothes dry. A spa-like bathroom pumps only boiling water. He crashes into a wall after following a green "life line." He is served gourmet breakfast in the midst of massed, hungry Displacees. All the while, he feels he is being watched, but doesn't know why or by whom.

The author manipulates words with suppleness and simplicity. The book is a fast read. Descriptions are well cast. "It wasn't really cold, but the humidity acted like an octopus whose slender tentacles managed to find their way into the tiniest open spaces between skin and clothing.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By William L. Scurrah on September 9, 2012
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Claudel's novel is a strange and wonderful parable of contemporary life in our industrialized, bureaucratized world. It is "Through the Looking Glass" updated, a script for a David Lynch film, a surrealist nightmare, a mystery with no solution.
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Format: Hardcover
The Investigation in three words - surreal, absurd, enchanting. It's a difficult book to review because, while I very much enjoyed reading it, I really don't feel like the writing and plot combination is all that great. Though I grasped some of the satirical points being made about modern society, I did not think they were very clear in the story. Their obscured, sporadic state seemed to indicate that they were not actually the main message of the book, leaving this ulterior meaning to be nonexistent in the wake of contrasting interpretations of the purpose of the novel.

I read The Investigation in one sitting. For much of the book, I was absorbed in the story more as something interesting to do than because the plot was exciting and engaging in a can't-put-the-book-down way. Not that the plot was boring; it was just a bit slow and...odd. What was at the beginning a nightmarish landscape and set of scenarios, however, turned into a bizarre sequence of events that left a more benign, enchanted feel to the book. Towards the end, I did become completely absorbed in the novel because I was intrigued by how the story would conclude. The ending was unexpected and a bit shocking, nothing at all what I had expected. Even for the nature of the book, I thought it was unusual and fascinating, which is what turned what would have been a four-star (good read) novel into a four-and-a-half star (great read, but not perfect) book for me.

Disclaimer: I received my copy of this book through the LibraryThing Early Reviewer program in exchange for an honest review.
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