Original title: Kérozène
Before I begin my story, let me make it perfectly clear that I have never had any trouble getting it up. Not that I would be embarrassed if I did it’s nothing to be ashamed of, but it’s never happened to me. Never. My name is Joseph and I’m a travelling salesman, specialising in mites. When I was a kid I wanted to be an astronaut, and then… well, life…
Mites are important. Mainly for poultry farmers. They’re natural predators for red mites. Red mites attack the chickens, the chickens stop laying, the farmer gets desperate, he calls me, I show up with my predator mites. It’s the cycle of life.
That evening, I was on my way round after a trip when I stopped for petrol. On the car park was a road sign showing a smiling man carrying a little girl and the words “Take a break every two hours.”
Adeline Dieudonné’s hotly anticipated second novel is an acerbic masterpiece in the style of Real Life.
A petrol station somewhere in the Ardennes, one summer night. An old woman knocks back several beers before climbing over the motorway crash barrier. A dozen or so people witness her demise. Juliette the cashier and her colleague Sébastien, married to Mauricio. Alika the Filipina nanny, Chelly the pole dance teacher, and Joseph, a travelling salesman specializing in mites… Each character becomes the hero of their own story.
As in her first novel, Real Life, the author fleshes out quietly crazy lives with ferocious wit. The novel is full of flashes of sheer surrealism, like the couple with a fully grown sow for a pet, the doctors who welcome their future daughter-in-law to dinner with a full pelvic exam, a top model who finds water revolting because dolphins swim in it, and a son chatting away quite happily to his mother’s grave. Adeline Dieudonné spares her readers nothing. Murders, full-on sex scenes, terrorist attacks, laughter and tears. Underpinning the surface humour and inventive scenarios in an unflinching, sardonic gaze that always hits the mark. The book asks deep and important questions about the meaning of life, knocking the stuffing out of our modern condition.
- Shortlisted for the Prix du Livre France Bleu/Page des libraires
- Dieudonné’s literary debut was the runaway sensation of the 2018 literary season, winning the Prix du roman FNAC and Grand prix des lectrices de ELLE and selling 275,000 copies (hardback + paperback)