A daring novel that made Christine Angot one of the most acclaimed and controversial authors in contemporary France, Incest is a virtuosic performance of a woman’s psychoanalytic journey inward. Tess Lewis’s forceful translation captures the boldness of Angot’s vision.
The narrator is falling out from a torrential relationship with another woman. Delirious with love, loss and yearning, her thoughts become increasingly cyclical and wild as the trauma underlying her pain and fractured sense of self resurfaces. With the naked intimacy of confession, and with bracing honesty, the narrator lays bare her experiences of a tangled web of desire, paranoia, and incest.
Incest is a thrilling book. It’s 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, author of How Should a Person Be?
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, author of You Too Can Have a Body Like Mine
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
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
Incest creates a space where imagination, potential futures, and pasts mingle with experiences, where the ‘I’ slips from the author to the narrator and gets lost in the vortex of language; it is language that speaks—the writer just writes... Voices echoing from the fractures, this is Incest: a collective adventure for the one that writes and the ones that read.
— Giorgos Kassiteridis, Asymptote Journal
It is clear that Christine Angot has won, because we are going to be thinking for a long time about this book. Because it will need a long study written about it in order to examine all of its hypotheses, its contradictions, understand the questions it puts forward, study its passion, disgust, insanity, the dream of controlled incest, the fantasy of incest fulfilled.…What’s at play in the work of Angot, in her force, her violence, is an idea of literature as a means of escaping from every collective, from all policing ... to think and write in one’s singularity.
— Josyane Savigneau, Le Monde
All said and done, Christine Angot is rock ’n’ roll. Not what it became, but what it should never have ceased to be: raw, concise, radical, subversive.... Angot serves as a mirror, revealing to her readers all their paradoxes and contradictions.
— Françoise-Marie Santucci, Libération
Auto-fiction at its extreme does not aspire here to shock but to give literature back its dangerous function and return to it its dignity.
— Gérard Meudal
[Incest] stylistically, is near perfection.. I would recommend this novel to anyone, especially fans of modern/contemporary literary fiction or experimental fiction.
— Matthew E. Jackson
I feel that books like this HAVE to be written to keep the landscape of modern literature fresh, live and moving forward.
— Bookish Lara
Angot claims she does not care what others think of her, or her writing. Her pen must be free of mediation that might control the outcome. She has no agenda, no vengeance on her page, just her freedom of expression.
— Rogue Literary Society
[A] brilliant portrait of a brain almost continually on fire with self-loathing... both a mesmerizing and harrowing ride... I believe Angot has done something truly spectacular here... How many of us have been lost in darkness and unable to think our way out of it? Angot’s life is lived in that state—a state of perpetual chaos and dejection. And she has used her brazen, fierce intelligence to translate this reality to the page in a way that reveals her brilliance as a writer and her sadness as a human being. Her journey is one you will never forget.
— Elaine Margolin, Truth Dig,
Angot is being most truthful when she is discussing her choices as a writer. On one level, I see this book as a treatise on writing itself.
— Heather Scott Partington and Ian MacAllen, Electric Lit
[Incest] is rich, intimate, and pulls you in... [Angot's] books are an incantation, biblical in their onrush of verbs, nouns, names, and deliberate repetitions... in the service of rhythm and camouflage, compelling you to read on, for sound, for cadence, for poetry... Take Incest into your arms and let yourself experience Angot as you would music, or an image of great evocative power.
— Tsipi Keller, Asymptote Journal
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
Christine Angot, who despises proper sentiment, has a fascinating, exhilarating, dazzling sensitivity.
— Yann Moix, Le Figaro littéraire