It belonged to us

Theo Tait

Tristan Garcia was only 26 when this dazzlingly clever and assured first novel came out in France, published there as La Meilleure Part des hommes and now in Britain and America under the punchier title of Hate: A Romance. With its societal sweep, slick marshalling of grand ideas and extreme sex, it fits neatly into an established category of French novels that have sold well in the English-speaking world, by authors such as Michel Houellebecq, Virginie Despentes and Frédéric Beigbeder. But even by these standards, Garcia’s debut cuts a dash. Hate confidently re-creates the Paris gay scene of the late 1980s and early 1990s, along with the wider political disappointments and subcultural controversies of the period: a time, as the author has put it, ‘of the end of ideologies and the end of history’, but also a time when Garcia himself was a small child. The book was one of the events of the rentrée littéraire, the autumn publishing season, of 2008; it won the Prix de Flore, which rewards younger, avant-garde-ish writers.

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