The Investigation

The Investigation

by Philippe Claudel
     
 

View All Available Formats & Editions

A wild, Kafka-esque romp through a dystopian landscape, probing thedarkly comic nature of the human condition.

The Investigator is a man quite like any other. He is balding, of medium build, dresses conservatively—in short, he is unremarkable in every way. He has been assigned to conduct an Investigation of a series of suicides (twenty-two in the past

See more details below

Overview

A wild, Kafka-esque romp through a dystopian landscape, probing thedarkly comic nature of the human condition.

The Investigator is a man quite like any other. He is balding, of medium build, dresses conservatively—in short, he is unremarkable in every way. He has been assigned to conduct an Investigation of a series of suicides (twenty-two in the past eighteen months) that have taken place at the Enterprise, a huge, sprawling complex located in an unnamed Town. The Investigator's train is delayed, and when he finally arrives, there's no one to pick him up at the station. It is alternating rain and snow, it's getting late, and there are no taxis to be seen. Off sets the Investigator, alone, into the night, unsure quite how to proceed.

So begins the Investigator's series of increasingly frustrating attempts to fulfill his task. In the course of hours of wandering looking for the entrance to The Enterprise, he bumps into a stranger hurrying past and spills open his luggage, soaking his clothes. When he finally reaches the Enterprise, he is told he does not posses the proper authorization documents to enter after regular hours. Asking for directions to a hotel, he is informed "We're not the Tourist Office," and must set off to find one himself. Time and time again, regulations hamstring him, street layouts befuddle him, and all the while he senses someone watching him, recording his every movement.

In a highly original work that is both absorbing and fascinating, Claudel undertakes a sweeping critique of the contemporary world through a variety of modes. Like Kafka, Beckett, and Huxley, he has crafted a dark fable that evokes the absurdity and alienation of existence with piercing intelligence and considerable humor.

Read More

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
As this overly philosophical novel begins, the Investigator arrives in a strange, unnamed city with a mandate to look into “a most unusually high” suicide rate at the Enterprise, an organization worthy of both the adjectives Orwellian and Kafkaesque. There, he encounters the Waiter, the Policeman, the Night Clerk, and so on, and is met at every turn with petty bureaucracy, mindless conformity, and a surreal indifference to his needs. Frustrations mount until the Investigator cracks and, in an orgy of violence, destroys his already awful hotel room; though this leaves him feeling “perfectly happy,” what follows is a truly hellish existence. Claudel’s slim parable about the plight of contemporary existence cannot be considered an heir to classics like 1984 or The Metamorphosis. Though written in 2010, the Investigator’s world is more reminiscent of Eastern Europe before the fall of communism than of 21st-century life. There’s no subtlety or ambiguity; nothing is left to the imagination, from the lives of the characters to the ideas Claudel intends to illuminate. Few readers will be able to draw any parallels between the author’s vision and contemporary society. (July 10)
Library Journal
Claudel, who here follows up award winners like Brodeck and By a Slow River (translated into 30 languages), is one French author American readers really seem to like. The Investigator encounters some truly absurd—dare one say Kafkaesque?—situations as he tries to determine what is behind a string of suicides at a huge complex called Enterprise in an unnamed Town. Do keep this one in mind.
From the Publisher

“A world that is by turns farcical, absurdist, allegorical. . . . Skillfully evokes the insidious, modern fear that we, like the Investigator, are playing bit parts in some vast, incomprehensible system.” —The Wall Street Journal

“Impressive . . . a self-aware book about self-awareness, about the process of becoming a person, the search for self. . . . [Claudel] has managed a rare trick.” —The Daily Telegraph (London)

“Darkly comic, pleasingly strange.” —The Daily Beast

Read More

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780385535342
Publisher:
Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group
Publication date:
07/10/2012
Pages:
240
Product dimensions:
5.70(w) x 8.30(h) x 1.10(d)

Customer Reviews

Average Review:

Write a Review

and post it to your social network

     

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

See all customer reviews >