An Impossible Love


Translated from by

Published: December 21, 2021





Want a discount? Become a member by purchasing Memberships!

Book Description

Reaching back into a world before she was born, Christine Angot describes the inevitable encounter of two young people at a social ball in the early 1950s: Rachel and Pierre, her mother and father. Their love is unusually acute. It twists around Pierre’s decisive judgments about class, nationalism, and beauty, and winds its way towards dissolution and Christine’s own birth. Though it’s Pierre whose ideas are most often voiced, it’s Rachel who slowly comes into view, her determination and patience forming a radiant, enigmatic disposition. Equal parts subtle and suspenseful, An Impossible Love is an unwavering advance towards a brutal sequence of events that mars both Christine’s and Rachel’s lives. Angot the author carves Angot the narrator from this corrosive element, conveying an unmendable rupture, and at the same time offering a portrait of a striking, ineradicable bond between mother and daughter.

An Impossible Love immerses the reader in both the solipsism of the two lovers and the wider world of French society in the 1950s . . . Angot has suggested that there is no distinction between real and fake, nor true and false in literary writing. There is only ‘alive prose’ and ‘dead prose’. There are words that remain on the page, and those that somehow manage to transcend themselves. Angot’s writing lives.
Alice Blackhurst, New Left Review

[An Impossible Love] has a formal, dispassionate style of language. Towards the end, this yields to an emotional depth when mother and daughter . . . reach a point of clarity and concord about the person who ruined their lives.
Declan O’Driscoll, Irish Times

Christine Angot is one of the bravest women writing in France today, and Armine Kotin Mortimer’s English translation of this novel is lucid and powerful. Incest was among the most difficult books I’ve ever read. Shockingly raw, erratic, poetic, and chaotic, it put you in the center of the author’s self-loathing. But the restraint and emotional range displayed in An Impossible Love makes this book a more painful story.
Amanda Holmes Duffy, Washington Independent Review of Books

A compelling chimera . . . A dissection of how power can be a potent aphrodisiac to those who wield it, a poison to those on its receiving end . . . Angot’s method is cunning and confrontational, delivering a shocking sucker punch to any of us that might be tiring of autofiction.
Heavy Feather Review

Christine Angot, who despises proper sentiment, has a fascinating, exhilarating, dazzling sensitivity.
Yann Moix, Le Figaro littéraire

I was enthralled by An Impossible Love from the first page to the last. Christine Angot brilliantly traces the minute fluctuations of emotion in her trio of characters, as well as the evasions, omissions and deceptions implicit in every kind of love. A daring and impressive performance.
Lynne Sharon Schwartz

An illuminating account of a mother and daughter's complicated love.
Publishers Weekly

The most recently translated autofiction by controversial French literary phenomenon Angot brings her unflinching intelligence to a terrible childhood trauma . . . Described without overstatement or sensationalism, raw and honest, [Rachel and Christine's] experience rings brutally true . . . Disturbing, powerful, a deeply personal story that is also searingly political.
Kirkus Reviews

Praise for Incest

A formally daring and passionate performance of the depths of human self-loathing, and the sufferings of attachment. It cut deep inside me with its truths. In every moment of reading it, I both wanted to keep reading it and wanted to write. I don’t think I will ever forget this book.
Sheila Heti

A maximalist in the art of emotion, Angot unmasks with frightening precision the roiling heart and the sharp edges of lust, loathing, and scorn lodged within love's fossil record. This is a book that points you toward the subterranean roots of your own emotions, the intricacies and murk we cover up in the name of normal daily operations.
Alexandra Kleeman

At times reminiscent of playwright Sarah Kane, particularly in her incantatory free associations... Incest is remarkably prescient. Christine Angot pinpoints how technology antagonizes mental health; how a lack of immediate reply can give the obsessive mind no room to breath.
Rebecca Watson, The Times Literary Supplement

A sensation in France, [Incest is a] novel in the form of a wild confession of a life filled with trauma.
The New York Times

Given Angot’s antagonism toward conventional syntax, the English translation, by Tess Lewis, is a feat of perspicuity... When L’Inceste was first published, an interviewer asked Angot what she hoped to achieve. “My ambition is to be unmanageable,” she said. “That people swallow me and at the same time cannot digest me."
H. C. Wilentz, The New Yorker

Angot’s writing reclaims the confession as a radical act — spiritual, even... At its core, Incest is a true testament to the subversive power of literature, in that it transmutes the violation of incest into connection with the reader.
Elizabeth Baird, The Millions

A Conversation between Armine Kotin Mortimer and Lynne Sharon Schwartz on Christine Angot’s An Impossible Love hosted by Books & Books

Armine Kotin Mortimer presents Christine Angot’s “An Impossible Love,” with Martha Cooley, hosted by Noah Mintz at Community Bookstore

You may also like…