22. ilb 07. - 17.09.2022

Hervé Le Tellier

Portrait Hervé Le Tellier
© Editions Gallimard

Hervé Le Tellier was born in Paris in 1957. A mathematician and linguist by training, he has been active as an author of novels, stories, poems, and columns since the early 1990s. Since 1992, he has been a member of the writers’ group Oulipo (Ouvroir de Littérature Potentielle) founded by François Le Lionnais and Raymond Queneau, and has been its president since 2019.
In an interview with Deutschlandfunk Kultur, German translator Jürgen Ritte described the French author’s circa thirty-book oeuvre by stating that »A typical Le Tellier is a Le Tellier that does not resemble the previous Le Tellier.« The titles that have appeared in translation so far provide insight into the breadth of his oeuvre. For example, the relationship novel »Assez parlé d’amour« (2009; Eng. »Enough About Love«, 2011), set in the intellectual milieu of Paris, centers on two married couples in their forties who seem to want for nothing. But when the wives find new love, the facade begins to crumble. »Eléctrico W.« (2011; Eng. »Electrico W«, 2013) follows a French journalist to the Portuguese capital, where he tries to track down the childhood sweetheart of his colleague António. Alternating between different tones – sometimes comic, sometimes tragic – the novel is rich in literary allusions. In »Moi et François Mitterrand« (2016; tr: Me and François Mitterrand), a narrator named Le Tellier writes letters to the French president starting with Mitterrand, but also to Chirac, Sarkozy, Hollande, and Macron. The fact that he receives only a standardized reply in each case doesn’t take the wind out of his sails. The »Süddeutsche Zeitung« reached the verdict that »The book is as subtle as it is entertaining to read.« In the autobiographical novel »Toutes les familles heureuses,« (2017; Eng. »All happy families«, 2019), Le Tellier looks at his own family, from which he has long since distanced himself. The scheming mother, the father merely called »begetter«, the miserly stepfather, the man-eating aunt are all touched on by Le Tellier. The »Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung« wrote that »With amusing humour, Hervé Le Tellier uses witty banter in his chapters to paint both catchy and lively portraits of people. At the same time, he provides insights into the history of French society and mentality over the past seventy years«. For his most recently published novel, »L’anomalie« (2020; Eng. »The Anomaly«, 2021), Le Tellier was awarded the most important literary prize in France: the Prix Goncourt. The starting point of the plot: An airplane runs into turbulence that interferes with the normal flow of time. As a result, each passenger – including a hit man, a writer, a pop star, and a lawyer – gets a doppelgänger. Le Tellier follows the individual stories of the passengers.