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★ Irish Times ★ Vernon Subutex 1 by Virginie Despentes review: “One of the books of the year, if not the decade”
” The stage is set for what will prove one of the books of the year, if not the decade, and as it is the first volume of a trilogy and already has a cult following on France, the best advice is, simply, to read it and pass on the word.
No review could do it justice; think the vintage Martin Amis of Money and especially The Information or of Keith Ridgway’s neglected Celtic Tiger caper The Parts and then consider how effectively Despentes relegates Emmanuel Carrere and Michel Houellebecq to appearing almost ordinary by sheer force of her vivid and fluid prose, satirical observations, comic timing, extensive knowledge of ’90s music and, above all, her inspired, at times merciless, at times tender, flair for characterisation. Mayo-born Frank Wynne, one of the finest literary translators in Spanish as well as French, has not missed either a nuance or a comic beat and effortlessly conveys all the energy, wit, emotional intelligence and pathos of a singular work. The great Balzac would applaud this very human comedy which is a 21st-century nod to the narrative approach of 19th-century writers. “