Jean Echenoz’s sly and playful novels have won critical and popular acclaim in France as well as in the United States, where he has been profiled by the New Yorker and called the “most distinctive voice of his generation” by theWashington Post. With his wonderfully droll and intriguing new work Special Envoy, Echenoz turns his hand to the espionage novel which, when published in France, stormed the bestseller lists.
Special Envoy begins with an old general in his dilapidated office in France’s intelligence agency asking his trusted lieutenant Paul Objat for ideas about a person he wants for a particular job: someone pretty, female, and easily manipulated. Objat has someone in mind: Constance, an attractive, restless, bored woman in a failing marriage to a washed-up pop musician. She is abducted by Objat’s cronies and spirited away into the bowels of France’s intelligence bureaucracy where she is trained for the mission to spearhead the destabilization of Kim Jong-un’s regime in North Korea.
Will Constance survive her mission in Pyongyang? Will her feckless husband ever write another pop hit? Joyously strange and unpredictable, full of twists and coincidences, Special Envoy is, in the words of L’Express “a pure gem, a delight at all times, a comedy monument, a celebration of the French language.”