The 7th Function of Language by Laurent Binet and Sam Taylor

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Like Nabokov's Lolita, this wonderfully clever novel can be enjoyed on multiple levels. But to fully appreciate its ingenious metafictional complexities, be prepared to do some Googling — at least, until an industrious scholar comes along to produce an annotated version.
-NPR

Synopsis

From the prizewinning author of HHhH, “the most insolent novel of the year” (L’Express) is a romp through the French intelligentsia of the twentieth century.

Paris, 1980. The literary critic Roland Barthes dies―struck by a laundry van―after lunch with the presidential candidate François Mitterand. The world of letters mourns a tragic accident. But what if it wasn’t an accident at all? What if Barthes was . . . murdered?

In The Seventh Function of Language, Laurent Binet spins a madcap secret history of the French intelligentsia, starring such luminaries as Jacques Derrida, Umberto Eco, Gilles Deleuze, Michel Foucault, Judith Butler, and Julia Kristeva―as well as the hapless police detective Jacques Bayard, whose new case will plunge him into the depths of literary theory (starting with the French version of Roland Barthes for Dummies). Soon Bayard finds himself in search of a lost manuscript by the linguist Roman Jakobson on the mysterious “seventh function of language.”

A brilliantly erudite comedy with more than a dash of The Da Vinci CodeThe Seventh Function of Language takes us from the cafés of Saint-Germain to the corridors of Cornell University, and into the duels and orgies of the Logos Club, a secret philosophical society that dates to the Roman Empire. Binet has written both a send-up and a wildly exuberant celebration of the French intellectual tradition.

 

About Laurent Binet and Sam Taylor

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Laurent Binet was born in Paris, France, in 1972. He is the author of La Vie professionnelle de Laurent B., a memoir of his experience teaching in secondary schools in Paris. In March 2010, his debut novel, HHhH, won the Prix Goncourt du Premier Roman. Laurent Binet is a professor at the University of Paris III, where he lectures on French literature.
 
Published August 1, 2017 by Farrar, Straus and Giroux. 368 pages
Genres: Humor & Entertainment, Literature & Fiction. Fiction
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Critic reviews for The 7th Function of Language
All: 4 | Positive: 4 | Negative: 0

Kirkus

Good
on May 15 2017

A famous semiotician has been killed. Call the police! And the post-structuralists...A clever and surprisingly action-packed attempt to merge abstruse theory and crime drama.

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NPR

Above average
Reviewed by Heller McAlpin on Aug 01 2017

Like Nabokov's Lolita, this wonderfully clever novel can be enjoyed on multiple levels. But to fully appreciate its ingenious metafictional complexities, be prepared to do some Googling — at least, until an industrious scholar comes along to produce an annotated version.

Read Full Review of The 7th Function of Language | See more reviews from NPR

NY Times

Above average
Reviewed by NICHOLAS DAMES on Aug 16 2017

It’s a somber and earnest sentiment for so outwardly playful a novel, but, at its least self-conscious, “The Seventh Function” is maybe also at its most Barthesian.

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Guardian

Above average
Reviewed by Lauren Elkin on May 12 2017

But in the end, The 7th Function of Language isn’t (only) playing for lowbrow/highbrow laughs; it’s a mise en scène of conflicting ideas about Frenchness. In an election year that saw Marine Le Pen get dangerously close to the French presidency, Binet’s postmodern policier asks where the nation is going...

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