The Mystery Guest by Grégoire Bouillier
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When the phone rang on a gloomy fall afternoon in 1990, Grégoire Bouillier had no way of knowing that it was the woman who'd left him, without warning, ten years before. And he couldn't have guessed why she was calling--not to apologize for, or explain, the way she'd vanished from his life, but to invite him to a party. A birthday party. For a woman he'd never met.

This is the story of how one man got over a broken heart, learned to love again, stopped wearing turtlenecks, regained his faith in literature, participated in a work of performance art by mistake, and spent his rent money on a bottle of 1964 bordeaux that nobody ever drank. The Mystery Guest is, in the words of L'Humanité, a work of "fiendish wit and refinement." It pushes the conventions of autobiography (and those great themes of French literature: love and aging) to an absurd, poignant, and very funny conclusion. This translation marks the English-language debut of an iconoclast who has attracted one of the most passionate cult followings in French literature today.


About Grégoire Bouillier

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Grégoire Bouillier's first book, Rapport sur moi, received the 2002 Prix de Flore for an author of outstanding promise. The Mystery Guest (L'invité mystère) is his second book. He lives in Paris.
Published August 22, 2006 by Farrar, Straus and Giroux. 140 pages
Genres: Biographies & Memoirs. Non-fiction

Unrated Critic Reviews for The Mystery Guest

Kirkus Reviews

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The vanished girlfriend resurfaces to invite the narrator to the birthday party of her husband’s best friend, artist Sophie Calle, who always invites a “mystery guest” to represent the year to come, and which the narrator has been designated.

Sep 01 2006 | Read Full Review of The Mystery Guest: An Account

The New York Times

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“Yes, exactly, Sophie Calle,” Bouillier writes, “the one who followed people in the street — anyway, every year this friend had a birthday party and invited as many people as she was years old plus a ‘mystery guest’ who stood for the year she was about to live, and this year she was in charge of ...

Sep 17 2006 | Read Full Review of The Mystery Guest: An Account


Years after leaving without explanation or goodbye, the love of the author's life has phoned not to explain, but to ask him to be the mystery guest at an artist's birthday party.

Sep 04 2006 | Read Full Review of The Mystery Guest: An Account

The Millions

With four books heading to the Hall of Fame, that means we have four new books landing on the list, ranging from hard-boiled Scandinavian thrillers to historical fiction in 18th century Japan to a 12-year-old literary biography with a twist.

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Project MUSE

And to the very end, Bouillier claims his destiny is tied up with the tiny, intrepid Ulysses: The day he wrote the first sentence of The Mystery Guest was also the day NASA and the European Space Agency extended the space probe's mission.

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The Paris Review

It’s the true story of a guy who goes to a fancy party where he doesn’t know anybody, hoping to find out why his girlfriend walked out on him five years before.

Oct 15 2010 | Read Full Review of The Mystery Guest: An Account

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