Flight Club


RELEASED 20 JANUARY 328 pages | Hardback/ebook

Author Hervé Le Tellier

Publisher Michael Joseph

L’anomalie received great praise on publicatio­n in France in 2020 and won that year’s Prix Goncourt, and so an English translatio­n (by Adriana Hunter) follows – mirroring a book that features in the story, also called The Anomaly, written by a frustrated novelist who commits suicide after finishing it.

This is one of many ordinary and not-so-ordinary people presented to us by Hervé Le Tellier, ranging from a spiky film editor to a profession­al assassin. All they have in common is that they took the same flight from Paris to New York in March 2021.

The book takes almost half its length to arrive at its premise, which is that an unexplaine­d phenomenon copies the entire plane and its passengers, but they don’t land until June. This gets frustratin­g after a while, as it feels like the novel is opening over and over again. But the premise is good, and reminiscen­t of French supernatur­al TV series such as The Returned and The Last Wave: there’s no antagonist, just a group of people whose lives are rocked by something they can’t explain.

Once it kicks in, the narrative does become more compelling. Scientists try to puzzle out why it happened; philosophe­rs and religious leaders question what it means for humanity; and the duplicated people try to adjust. Some are alarmed at having a twin with identical memories, some find it appealing. How can they all fit into the same world? Who gets to keep their homes, their jobs, their stuff?

Even more intriguing are those whose lives have vastly changed in such a short time – most notably Victor Miesel, the novelist who inherits a book he didn’t write and can’t relate to. It’s a novel full of ideas, and with so many characters to fit in, some of their stories feel a little perfunctor­y and the overall impression is of a novel without a middle act – but it’s one still very much worth reading. Eddie Robson

The novel’s been such a hit that a pastiche, L’anomalie Du Train 006 Pour Brive by Pascal Fioretto, came out last June.

Once it kicks in, the narrative does become more compelling

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