Search for Books
ABA Mobile Menu
Vernon Subutex 3: A Novel (Paperback)
Paris may burn, the world may crumble, but Vernon Subutex shall reign supreme! — The final installation of writer/filmmaker Virginie Despentes’s Man Booker International Prize shortlisted punk-rock trilogy.
As storm clouds gather, portending a final reckoning, ersatz rave-cult leader Vernon Subutex decides to return to Paris. Even if it means leaving behind his disciples. He has to. He’s got a dentist’s appointment.
Back in the city, he learns that an old friend from his days homeless on the Paris streets has died and left him half of a lottery win. But when Vernon returns to his commune with news of this windfall, it’s not long before his disciples turn on each other. Such good fortune does not accord with the principles Vernon has handed down.
Meanwhile, the monstrous film producer Laurent Dopalet is determined to make Aïcha and Céleste pay for their attack on him, whatever it takes and whoever gets hurt. And, before long, the whole of Paris will be reeling in the wake of the terrorist atrocities of 2015 and 2016, and all the characters in this kaleidoscopic portrait of a city and era will be forced to confront one another one last time. In the wake of all this chaos and hate, the question will rise again: After all he’s been through, who is Vernon Subutex? And the answer: He is the future.
Virginie Despentes’s epochal trilogy ends here—in fire, blood, and even forgiveness. But not everyone will survive to see the dawning of the golden age of Subutex.
About the Author
Frank Wynne has translated the work of many authors including Michel Houellebecq, Boualem Sansal, Frédéric Beigbeder, and the late Ivoirian novelist Ahmadou Kourouma. He won the International IMPAC Literary Award with Houellebecq for The Elementary Particles.
Virginie Despentes is a writer and filmmaker. She worked in an independent record store in the early ’90s, was a sex worker, and published her first novel, Baise Moi, when she was twenty-three. She adapted the novel for the screen in 2000, codirecting with the porn star Coralie Trinh Thi. Upon release, it became the first film to be banned in France in twenty-eight years. Despentes is the author of more than fifteen other works, including Apocalypse Baby, Bye Bye Blondie, Pretty Things, and the essay collection King Kong Theory.
"Despentes has been described as the "Rock'n'roll (insert name of any 19th century novelist you care to think of)". True, she is in some sense an "apostle of the gutter" like Zola. And, like Balzac, she can present a panorama of individuals shaped by socioeconomic circumstance. Like Eliot, characterisation is informed by psychological complexity. All those aspects are present in the Vernon Subutex trilogy, translated by Frank Wynne. These volumes, which chart the lives of a chaotic and diverse group of Parisians -- misfits, screenwriters, porn stars, musicians, temps, ex-city traders -- do so with vigour, bustle, and energy. The trilogy is an amphetamine epic, so skip the 19th century: let's go ancient and say that Despentes has produced a rock'n'roll Odyssey, but arguably with better women . . . Frank Wynne's flexible, fine translation means this happens in a manner that is thrilling and exhilarating to read."
—Wendy Erksine, Irish Times
"Now Vernon Subutex 3 . . . brings the story of Vernon, former record-shop owner and increasingly lost soul, to a sometimes bleak, often very funny and possibly optimistic conclusion."
—Sarah Hughes, The Guardian
"As raw and rewarding as readers of the first two installments would expect."
—The New European (5 Great Books Published This Month)
"The last volume of Virginie Despentes’ acclaimed trilogy has arrived and, as you would expect, there’s considerably more bang than whimper . . . outrageous, often funny and frequently foul-mouthed . . . Vernon Subutex 1, 2 and 3 are Despentes’ fearless, dissection of contemporary France through a chorus of extraordinary, extreme voices . . . Just don’t expect Despentes to give you a happily ever after."
"A pulpy thriller narrative built around the notion that rampant free-market values have left a moral and spiritual void at the centre of French society . . . Imagine, if you will, James Ellroy and William Gibson rewriting High Fidelity and you’re somewhere near the tone . . . There’s a sense of mischief throughout, as if Despentes is gleefully spinning the wheel in tracing these stories . . . Ultimately, it’s a dark story of how violence can be turned to entertainment for the sake of profit. It can be exhausting, but it’s also invigorating, and there isn’t really anything else like it right now."
"Despentes has found a way, at the level of composition and form, to enhance and even embody the qualities - hatred, alienation, anarchy of feeling - that she identifies at the centre of present-day France . . . Despentes's writing is intelligent, outspoken, witty, shocking, propulsive and streetwise. She has a clenched-fist tremendismo style that fits perfectly with her thrash metal image (she is frequently pictured in a Motorhead T-shirt). She has been fortunate in her translator, who matches her for invention and energy."
—Hal Jensen, The Times Literary Supplement
"Three addictive, intelligent volumes. Comedy, a way with words, and the collision of registers of language combine to make Vernon irresistible."
—RAPHAËLLE LEYRIS, Le Monde