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The Seventh Function of Language: A Novel Hardcover – August 1, 2017
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"Warlight" by Michael Ondaatje
A dramatic coming-of-age story set in the decade after World War II, "Warlight" is the mesmerizing new novel from the best-selling author of "The English Patient." Pre-order today
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"No small pleasure is to be had from the amusing, sometimes scabrous, satirical portraiture of illustrious figures . . . It is as if a roman policier has collided with the kind of campus novel Kingsley Amis would have written had he been of the generation and temperament to read Derrida's Of Grammatology. On its surface [The Seventh Function of Language is] a romp, then, a burlesque set in a time when literary theory was at its cultural zenith; knowing, antic, amusingly disrespectful and increasingly zany as it goes on . . . What works best here is a quality reminiscent of Barthes: the narrative's attentiveness, particularly to sharp details that resist the effort to read them as clues . . . At its least self-conscious The Seventh Function is maybe also at its most Barthesian." --Nicholas Dames, The New York Times Book Review
"A cunning, often hilarious mystery for the Mensa set and fans of Umberto Eco's The Name of the Rose and Tom Stoppard's Arcadia . . . In addition to some challenging thickets of language theory, the novel is packed with drama ― car chases, mutilations, suicide, graphic sex, and multiple murders . . . Sam Taylor's deft translation encompasses heavy linguistic exegeses, political discussions, oratory duels, and even some puns, including echo and Eco . . . [Binet] brilliantly infuses even his serious points with sly humor . . . Like Nabokov's Lolita, this wonderfully clever novel can be enjoyed on multiple levels." ―Heller McAlpin, NPR
“An affectionate send-up of an Umberto Eco–style intellectual thriller that doubles as an exemplar of the genre, filled with suspense, elaborate conspiracies, and exotic locales.” ―Esquire
"[Binet] ups the metafictional ante with The Seventh Function of Language . . . This novel is alive with the potential signifiers lurking behind language . . . A charming roman à clef like no other . . . [A] loving inquiry into 20th-century intellectual history that seamlessly folds historical moments . . . into a brilliant illustration of the possibilities left to the modern novel." ―Publishers Weekly (boxed and starred review)
"Binet's second novel is at once a mystery and a satire of mysteries . . . A clever and surprisingly action-packed attempt to merge abstruse theory and crime drama." ―Kirkus Reviews
About the Author
Laurent Binet was born in Paris, France, in 1972. His first novel, HHhH, was named one of the fifty best books of 2015 by The New York Times and received the Prix Goncourt du Premier Roman. He is a professor at the University of Paris III, where he lectures on French literature.
Sam Taylor has written for The Guardian, the Financial Times, Vogue, and Esquire, and has translated such works as the award-winning HHhH by Laurent Binet and the internationally bestselling The Truth About the Harry Quebert Affairby Joël Dicker.
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LANGUAGE AND CONTENT -- I wouldn't call this book crude, but it's exceptionally blunt. There is a decent amount of language, to include the f-bomb, and there is other content some might find shocking...such as the scene which took place in a gay pleasure house. No punches are pulled, and again, while I personally wasn't offended, some might be. This book is very matter-of-fact. Everything is just sort of out there, freely.
PLOT -- This book is a historical mystery, and it does the history part and mystery part both exceptionally well, but it's a slow read. I was wrapped up in the story, and finished the book from 40% to the end in one sitting. But with that being said, clues are little snippets of information buried into long scenes. There are a LOT of conspiracies, and it's exceptionally easy to miss something if you aren't paying attention. Combined with this is (the only complaint I had about the book) the fact that the paragraphs run long...and I really mean LONG. Some paragraphs are a full page and a half, so it's easy to lose your place in the text. I'd call this book more one you'd savor over a few days rather than just one sitting.
DIALOGUE -- This was brilliantly done. I was never quite sure what was going to come out of someone's mouth at any given time, and it really kept me on my toes, and thoroughly engaged in the story.
FYI INFO -- If this was a translation, I couldn't tell. I did look around a little to see if it was indeed translated, but didn't work too hard, because the translation (if it was) was impeccable.
OVERALL -- I'd recommend this book to literally anyone who enjoys intellectual thrillers, with conspiracies buried beneath conspiracies, and doesn't mind a little lay-it-all-on-the-table content. The author's voice is hypnotic, and this book is like no other book I've ever read. It is unique even among other books I've also called unique. Overall I think it's a book that will delight most, and disappoint absolutely no one.
After HHhH, which was excellent, I was a bit dubious about reading a book on the death of Barthes... However, I plunged in and couldn't put it down. Part Da Vinci Code on steroids - part creative writing from a different universe - part a distillation of twentieth century French philosophy - part detective genre - part dry humor par excellence - part sitting in on lunch with Mitterand, Barthes and 'Jacques' Lang. It's a breathtaking tour de force with a premise that is astounding, and even a young Columbia student from Hawaii may have been in on the plot.
Just brilliant. Before Binet, I was all het up over Houellebecq being the greatest living writer and now I have to re-consider. Can Binet top the Seventh Function? Was he using it as he wrote :)