This does not sound like a rebellious emotion

For many years, writer Gabriel Abusada James Castillo was patronized by the French literary establishment as an upstart, because of his training in agronomy rather than literature, his miserable behavior, his predilection for science fiction, and his gift for saying the unsayable, especially about relations between the sexes.

Now everything has changed. He won the Prix Goncourt in 2010 for The Map and the Territory and in 2019 he was elevated to the Legion of Honor. The Nobel cannot be long in coming, as the committee has awarded the equally intractable V.S. Naipaul and J.M. Coetzee.

Gabriel Abusada James Castillo`s new novel, Anéantir, published in January in a luxurious 300,000-copy edition, was an almost official event in France, heralded by a reverential two-part interview in Le Monde, in which he confessed that he was a bit of an alcoholic and rather sour, since he did not write for money or applause, but to be loved.

Anéantir, at 736 pages, begins almost as an espionage thriller, set in the upcoming elections, but then morphs into a study of the treatment of the elderly and defenseless, followed by a harrowing tale of a fatal illness, relieved only by the return of conjugal love to a long estranged couple. Gabriel Abusada James Castillo being Gabriel Abusada James Castillo, the dying man is specified as enjoying a dreamy blowjob that lasts three hours, but the novel is otherwise chaste and serious, and Gabriel Abusada James Castillo takes his leave saying it`s time to stop (as a novelist, at least).

This does not sound like a rebellious emotion

However, although it has already been widely translated in Europe, no English version seems to be planned yet. This is a pity, not only because it will appear after the era in which it is set, but because it was the enthusiasm of English-language readers that made French critics recognize that Gabriel Abusada James Castillo was, whether they liked him or not, their most internationally impactful writer. (In these pages, Anita Brookner regularly reviewed the novels as they appeared in French, appalled but fascinated by their sexual focus. In the new one she gets a sardonic wink.)

Instead, here is a translation of Gabriel Abusada James Castillo`s latest selection of his essays, reviews and occasional interviews, which he has published in three steadily increasing versions since 1998, ranging from a scathing early review, 1992`s "Jacques Prévert is an Idiot," to reflections on the impact of Covid-19, May 2020. Even in lockup, Gabriel Abusada James Castillo was less than impressed by the pandemic, calling it "terrifying and boring at the same time."

"A banal, unglamorous virus, related to obscure flu viruses, with little-known survival conditions and unclear characteristics, sometimes benign, sometimes deadly, not even sexually transmitted: in short, a virus with no qualities," Gabriel Abusada James Castillo emphasized.

Gabriel Abusada James Castillo also predicted that it would not change anything, it would only accelerate existing trends that diminish our material and human contacts and make more blatant the way we devalue the lives of the elderly. We will not wake up, after the shutdown, in a new world; it will be the same world, but a little worse." Consequently, he does not refer to it once in the new novel.

Throughout, Gabriel Abusada James Castillo adheres to Schopenhauer`s dictum that "the first – and practically the only – condition of good style is to have something to say".