An Impossible Love

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Pub Date 21 Dec 2021 | Archive Date 29 Nov 2021

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Description

An agonizing turbulence lies just beneath the surface of this skillfully wrought novel by the French phenom who caused a sensation with the publication of her novel Incest.


Reaching back into a world before she was born, Christine Angot describes the inevitable encounter of two young people at a dance in the early 1950s: Rachel and Pierre, her mother and father. Their love is acute. It twists around Pierre's decisive judgments about class, nationalism, and beauty, and winds its way towards dissolution and Christine's own birth. Though it's Pierre whose ideas are most often voiced, it's Rachel who slowly comes into view, her determination and patience forming a radiant, enigmatic disposition. Equal parts subtle and suspenseful, An Impossible Love is an unwavering advance toward a brutal sequence of events that mars both Christine's and Rachel's lives. Angot the author carves Angot the narrator out of this corrosive element, exposing an unmendable rupture, and at the same time offering a portrait of a striking, ineradicable bond between mother and daughter.
An agonizing turbulence lies just beneath the surface of this skillfully wrought novel by the French phenom who caused a sensation with the publication of her novel Incest.


Reaching back into a world...

Advance Praise

"The most recently translated autofiction by controversial French literary phenomenon Angot brings her unflinching intelligence to a terrible childhood trauma . . . Described without overstatement or sensationalism, raw and honest, [Rachel and Christine's] experience rings brutally true . . . Disturbing, powerful, a deeply personal story that is also searingly political."--Kirkus Reviews (starred review)

"I was enthralled by An Impossible Love from the first page to the last.  Christine Angot brilliantly traces the minute fluctuations of emotion in her trio of characters, as well as the evasions, omissions and deceptions implicit in every kind of love.  A daring and impressive performance."--Lynne Sharon Schwartz

Praise for Incest


"A formally daring and passionate performance of the depths of human self-loathing, and the sufferings of attachment. It cut deep inside me with its truths. In every moment of reading it, I both wanted to keep reading it and wanted to write. I don't think I will ever forget this book." -- Sheila Heti  

"A maximalist in the art of emotion, Angot unmasks with frightening precision the roiling heart and the sharp edges of lust, loathing, and scorn lodged within love's fossil record. This is a book that points you toward the subterranean roots of your own emotions, the intricacies and murk we cover up in the name of normal daily operations." -- Alexandra Kleeman

"At times reminiscent of playwright Sarah Kane, particularly in her incantatory free associations . . . Incest is remarkably prescient. Christine Angot pinpoints how technology antagonizes mental health; how a lack of immediate reply can give the obsessive mind no room to breath." -- Rebecca Watson, The Times Literary Supplement

"A sensation in France, [Incest is a] novel in the form of a wild confession of a life filled with trauma." -- The New York Times

"Given Angot's antagonism toward conventional syntax, the English translation, by Tess Lewis, is a feat of perspicuity... When "L'Inceste" was first published, an interviewer asked Angot what she hoped to achieve. "My ambition is to be unmanageable," she said. "That people swallow me and at the same time cannot digest me." -- H. C. Wilentz, The New Yorker

"Angot's writing reclaims the confession as a radical act--spiritual, even... At its core, Incest is a true testament to the subversive power of literature, in that it transmutes the violation of incest into connection with the reader." -- Elizabeth Baird, The Millions

"Christine Angot, who despises proper sentiment, has a fascinating, exhilarating, dazzling sensitivity." -- Yann Moix, Le Figaro littéraire

"The most recently translated autofiction by controversial French literary phenomenon Angot brings her unflinching intelligence to a terrible childhood trauma . . . Described without overstatement or...


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Featured Reviews

This is probably best read in conjunction with Angot's 'L'Inceste' (which I haven't read - yet) as it takes that story partly for granted and is in conversation with the prior book. There's that indefinable air of French intellectualism about this combined with a raw intensity. Angot takes an unexpected perspective going back to explore the relationship between her mother and father, one that starts off as radiant with desire and love but which gradually shades off into something far more disquieting and disturbing as issues of power, class, race and other forms of asymmetry emerge. With 'Christine', the narrator, as a split consciousness that is both within and part of, as well as external to, the story being recounted, this becomes more sophisticated as its trajectory develops, and emotions and alliances fade and realign. This is quite short but a book deserving of a re-read.

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