Christian Oster translated from the French by Adriana Hunter

The Unforeseen


Publication Date: Sep 15, 2007

264 pp

Trade Paperback

List Price US $13.95
ISBN: 9781590512654


Written with his typical witty and delicate touch, Christian Oster’s new novel pokes fun at the postmodern male’s overrated sensitivity.

Oster’s stories are simple—at least if we mean stories that can be summarized in a few words. In the case of The Unforeseen, such a summary would begin like this: the narrator, who has a perpetual cold, lives with a woman who never catches a cold and so has the immediate intuition that the cold she has now, as the two of them drive together toward the sea at the opening of the novel, is a very bad omen indeed.

From the author of A Cleaning Woman, made into a film by Claude Berri, comes Oster’s new novel of perfect, erudite, and sometimes laughable sadness. Oster’s perceptive gaze, and the changing rhythm of his sentences, guide his reader through the psychological realism of obsession and desire. The honesty of emotion in The Unforeseen is matched only by its subversive intent.



Excerpt from The Unforeseen

“If Eugène Ionesco had written Tolstoy’s ‘The Death of Ivan Ilyich,’ he might have produced something very like this terse, teasing novel….Eccentric, elusive and at times explosively funny. A lucid allegorical gem.” —Kirkus Reviews (starred review)

“Oster’s slow, meditative novel, translated into fluid, almost hypnotic English by Adriana Hunter, has at its center a protagonist who lives not fully engaged but rather with qualifications for every part of his existence…Oster portrays an oddly mesmerizing journey.” —Booklist

“The latest from French novelist Oster (A Cleaning Woman) uses the common cold as a deceptively offhand metaphor for love, and achieves a depth that is comic, sad and very Gallic…The result is a love story deeply informed by Beckett (complete with the narrator acquiring a limp like that of Molloy’s title character), where swells of feeling are tracked in sneezes as involuntary as love itself. The narrator’s dispassion…paradoxically betrays the depth of his feeling at every turn, giving a story in which almost nothing happens very large stakes indeed.” —Publishers Weekly

“It’s at once an incredible character study—a journey into a warped mind—and a thought-provoking tale about the nature of human relationships. It shows, through deceptively simple storytelling, the corrosive effects of neediness, jealousy and selfishness.” Washington Times

“Among the pleasures to be found in reading Christian Oster’s books, surprise may not [be] numbered…Ultimately, Oster writes existential comedies, quest stories without heroes. His protagonist is floundering, out of place, ruthlessly truthful, blank, and absurd—and the effect is very entertaining…The drama consists not in resolving this anxiety, but in surviving it.” —Bookforum