Adam Haberberg


From the award-winning author of Art and Desolation comes this bitingly funny new novel that follows the absurd adventures of a man struggling with a midlife crisis.

Adam Haberberg is losing his sight in his left eye. His new book is a flop. And his marriage isn’t doing too well. But while sitting one day on a park bench, he sees an old friend from high school, Marie Thérèse, and suddenly his whole life seems to change. Adam soon finds that his own life has somehow become ...

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Adam Haberberg

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From the award-winning author of Art and Desolation comes this bitingly funny new novel that follows the absurd adventures of a man struggling with a midlife crisis.

Adam Haberberg is losing his sight in his left eye. His new book is a flop. And his marriage isn’t doing too well. But while sitting one day on a park bench, he sees an old friend from high school, Marie Thérèse, and suddenly his whole life seems to change. Adam soon finds that his own life has somehow become intertwined with Marie Thérèse’s, throwing everything into question. A wry tragicomedy and a nuanced study of a man in the throes of an existential crisis, Adam Haberberg has the same wit and panache that have marked all of Yasmina Reza’s work to date.

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Editorial Reviews

Caryn James
… a novel that can be read in one swift and finally exhilarating rush, a work that goes a long way toward reconciling Reza to her genuine talent.
— The New York Times
Library Journal
Award-winning playwright Reza's third novel and the second to be translated into English (after Desolation) is the portrait of a midlife crisis. Consisting primarily of internal monolog, it tells the story of a single night in the life of 47-year-old Adam Haberberg, a washed-up novelist. Depressed about the death of his loyal publisher, his loveless marriage, and his recently diagnosed macular degeneration, he is slumped on a bench at the zoo when he is recognized by an old classmate. Although he hasn't seen this woman in 30 years, the hapless protagonist agrees to spend the evening with her. Haberberg is an interesting character, but his over-the-top neuroses make it hard for readers to relate to him and distract from the nuggets of wisdom hidden in his stream-of-consciousness narrative. Because the slow pace and quirky narration may be a bit much for the casual reader, this book is most appropriate for libraries with large, specialized fiction collections—in particular, the same libraries that purchased Desolation.
—Karen Walton Morse
Kirkus Reviews
Half a day in the life of a failed Parisian novelist. Reza (Desolation, 2002, etc.) places her title character in the "poorhouse position" on a bench at the Jardin des Plantes menagerie. In this zoo story, the morose 47-year-old Adam meets an old high-school acquaintance, Marie-Therese. A seller of cheap souvenirs, Marie invites the "artiste" to her flat in a distant suburb. As she drives and chatters about her job and long-lost schoolmates, Adam thinks about his eye problems and defunct career, and he thinks about his TV-watching children and unsympathetic wife, and he thinks some more. He also makes calls on his cell phone and occasionally responds to Marie, who was once infatuated with him. She cooks an impromptu dinner for Adam, after which he returns to Paris, vowing to write about triviality: "give an account of what doesn't change, or changes very little, or changes in an invisible, secretly cruel way." Told through Adam's point of view in an unsegmented present-tense tumble of dialogue and rumination, the novel initially seems to be a tour-de-force of Adam's newly valued quotidian reality-a Nicholson Baker knock-off-but is ultimately a tour de farce, a writer's mockery of a writer's vain ambitions, intellectual pretensions and emotional narcissism. One would not want to spend more than half a day with Adam Haberberg.
From the Publisher
“Captivating. . . . Sophisticated. . . . Swift and exhilarating.” —The New York Times Book Review“Intense. . . . A driving, brutal snapshot of a midlife crisis.” —San Francisco Chronicle“Poignant and bitterly funny. . . . Reza offers us in Adam Haberberg the tightrope spectacle of a fabulously successful writer describing a failed one.” —Los Angeles Times“Polished. . . . A sympathetic portrait of a writer filled with regrets about his life and art.” —The New York Times
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781400043156
  • Publisher: Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group
  • Publication date: 1/2/2007
  • Pages: 160
  • Product dimensions: 5.32 (w) x 7.89 (h) x 0.85 (d)

Meet the Author

Yasmina Reza is a playwright and novelist whose plays have all been multi-award-winning critical and popular international successes, translated in more than thirty languages. She lives in Paris.

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Read an Excerpt

Adam Haberberg

By Yasmina Reza


Copyright © 2007 Yasmina Reza
All right reserved.

ISBN: 1400043158

One day the writer Adam Haberberg sits down in front of the ostriches on a bench at the Jardin des Plantes menagerie in Paris and thinks, this is it, I've found the poorhouse position. A spontaneous position, he thinks, you can find it only when you're not trying. One fine day you sit down and there you are, you're hunched in the poorhouse position. He feels at ease in this position; I feel at ease in it, he thinks, because I'm young and there's no onus on me to stay like this. In normal times Adam Haberberg soon bounces back, but these are not normal times for him, a man who's paid six euros to walk a few yards parallel with the Quai Saint-Bernard, then come back again and collapse onto the very first bench, opposite the ostriches in what is undoubtedly the ugliest and least attractive part of the garden.

So, one day, there in front of the ostriches in the Jardin des Plantes, Adam Haberberg sits down. The bench is wet from invisible rain. The two flabby, gray creatures are eating a kind of straw in front of their hut in a totally bare enclosure. The cell phone in his pocket rings. "Hello?" "Did you see the weather?" says the voice. "Enough to make you blow your brains out." "Forget it. That's how it goes." "Where are you?" "In the Jardin des Plantes." "What are you doing in the Jardin des Plantes?" "Where are you?" "In Lognes. Eldorauto car accessories. In the parking lot." "What the hell are you doing in Lognes?" "Waitingfor Martine. How's the book?" "Disaster." "Will I see you?" "I'll call you back."

At the brick entrance to the big cats' house the word shop looms monstrously. The optometrist, he tells himself, the optometrist was not all that reassuring. On the other hand he was not alarmist. But then would an optometrist be alarmist? Would an optometrist say, Monsieur Haberberg, we can't exclude the possibility that very soon you'll have lost the use of your left eye, dear Monsieur Haberberg, what guarantee have we that when you leave here you'll still be able to cross the street like before? No. The optometrist says, the second angiogram confirms the diagnosis of partial thrombosis in the central vein of the retina. Showing more hemorraging than in the first. This is normal. It's normal for the edema to deteriorate before beginning to be absorbed. It may take between six months and two years before becoming stabilized, it could deteriorate, remain stable or improve. The optometrist also says, you're lucky, Monsieur Haberberg, you still have good close vision, you're not seeing things blurred, you're not seeing them distorted. And he adds, we must also do a visual field test since the back of the eye you present is of a type that could give rise to glaucoma; this is only a suspicion, but the iris is furrowed and we have no right, you understand, to ignore what might be the start of something. Adam Haberberg is forty-seven. A young age, he thinks, at which to see the murkiness of death winking at him. It had begun with a flickering sensation, it always begins with things like that, he thinks, a flickering, a buzzing, a smarting sensation, these barely perceptible things, little alarm bells ringing. He had covered his right eye with his hand and said to his wife: my vision's blurred. That's all we need, was her comment. The sight in my left eye's all hazy. It's a speck of dust, it'll pass. She didn't give a damn. She'd already left the room, she didn't give a damn about anything to do with him. The word thrombosis, modestly articulated a few days later, only irritated her. The word thrombosis had swept away any residue of indulgence or understanding within Irène's heart.

Adam Haberberg thinks about Albert out there at Lognes waiting for Martine in the Eldorauto parking lot. He thinks about his wife; he thinks about his eye. He thinks about the catastrophe of his book. He thinks about that animal whose canine teeth project beneath its lower jaw, stooped there in a corner of the garden between two ovals of shrubbery. Solitary, he read on the panel, habitat: the mountain forests of Asia. Solitary, yes, he thought, watching the tailless quadruped trembling as it grazed, but not a solitude like this, the solitude of flat ground, no air, with unappetizing grass and the noise of cars, in that part of the world, shown in red on the panel, which is your habitat, you can see the sky through gaps in the darkness, I've never written about mountains, he thinks. When it comes to the footpaths and trails I love, I'm tongue-tied.


Excerpted from Adam Haberberg by Yasmina Reza Copyright © 2007 by Yasmina Reza. Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
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