Friday July 3, 2020

Laurent Binet's novel is trapped in a postmodern cul-de-sac

Some entertaining bits of thriller business but after those first hundred pages, things deteriorate

28th May, 2017
François Mitterrand (left) and Valéry Giscard d’Estaing (right) both pop up in Laurent Binet’s new novel Pic: Getty

FICTION: The 7th Function of Language, By Laurent Binet; translated by Sam Taylor, Harvill Secker, €17

‘Life is not a novel,” goes the opening sentence of Laurent Binet’s new novel, before continuing: “Or at least you would like to believe so.”

This might strike Anglophone readers as a characteristically French observation. Certainly, it inaugurates a metafictional romp that could have been written in no other country. Binet’s...

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