Muriel Barbery – The Elegance of the Hedgehog

 

The Indigestibility of Bad Books

A solid batter of pseudo-intellectual clichés with Parisian-Japanese sauce, this novel is about the unlikely redemption of a dejected janitress, propelled out of her sad state with the help of a wise tenant from the Land of the Rising Sun and a 13-year-old suicidal wannabe. The ending of the story is rather majestic in its banality. Once upon a time, beyond any suspicion, so Francesco Guccini, the Italian singer-songwriter, had sung, certainly with other purpose: “Come in un libro scritto male/Lui si era ucciso per Natale” (Just like in a bad book / he had committed suicide on Christmas Eve). Words that, after all these years, seem to have been expressly written for this very novel.

Translation edited by Chiara Canova and Robert Mardle