In the Train: a novel
Translated by Adriana Hunter
The fourth novel by this celebrated French writer to be published in English, Christian Oster’s In the Train is at its heart a love story that takes off from the moment the train leaves the station.
Frank meets Anne on the platform in Paris. She is struggling with a heavy bag and he immediately wants to help. From that first moment, his thoughts and anxieties unravel in a sharply focused, engaging and introspective narrative. Falling in love isn’t easy for Frank, who quickly discovers he is never standing on solid ground.
Here, Oster manages the delicate task of capturing human turmoil in all its complexity—the hesitation, exhilaration and suspense; the daydreams and scrutinies; and the surprising, even alarming sensation of being carried away. Through the character of Frank, Oster opens the door to something larger, exposing and dissecting, without shame and with great humor, those thoughts and desires that can make us equally prone to passion, vertigo, and, in a pinch, to love.
With his unmistakable style, captured gracefully in Adriana Hunter’s translation, Oster merges humor, distance and uncompromising honesty in order to create a novel that is in turns funny, reflective, insightful and entirely seductive. He has mastered the art of digression in order to quietly provoke an uncanny sense of expectation, a feeling of suspense. How far his potential lovers can make it together is a question that enthralls us from beginning to end.
In the Train was originally published in 2002 by the influential French publishing house Les Éditions de Minuit.
Read an excerpt of In the Train (in PDF) here.
About the author
Christian Oster was born in 1949. He is the author of 14 novels, as well as numerous books for children. Among his previous works, My Big Apartment (1999) won the prestigious Prix Médicis, and The Cleaning Woman (2001) was made into a feature film by Claude Berri. He lives in Paris.
Just prior to the publication of In the Train, Richard di Santo of Object Press interviewed Christian Oster about his novel, writing style and literary interests. Read the exclusive interview here.
Praise for In the Train and Christian Oster
‘Everything in this novel is finely sculpted and perfectly attuned, so light in appearance and intensely revealing in truth.’
‘In this compact work, Oster has fleshed out an odd, sometimes touching, sometimes grating love story. The couple is offbeat to say the least, but their experience of a new relationship, with its excitements and uncertainties, is relatable. While Oster allows Frank and Anne some dark flaws, their most admirable trait is both shared and constant; they are willing to go along for the ride.’
‘Christian Oster is undeniably one of today’s great masters of humor.’
— Le Monde
‘Christian Oster possesses this singular art, inherited from the nouveau roman, of conferring onto the banal and minute details of life a vertiginous profundity. The maniac care that he takes to examine the potential of language has the effect of making the ground slip away from under our feet. In his work, laughter and zaniness are never reliable supports, but amplifying agents of an unfathomable perplexity: the one that seizes us when we become even only slightly attentive to reality.’
— Le Monde
‘Oster develops his novels with perfect mastery.’
— Livres Hebdo
‘Christian Oster is a man who delights in the ambiguities of language.’
— The New York Times
About the translator
Adriana Hunter has translated over 40 books including works by Agnès Desarthe, Amélie Nothomb, Frédéric Beigbeder, Véronique Ovaldé, and Catherine Millet, and has been short-listed for the Independent Foreign Fiction Prize twice. She lives in Norfolk, England with her husband and their three children.
In the Train is her second translation of Christian Oster’s work, after The Unforeseen, published in 2006.
Except where stated, all material copyright © Object Press, 2010.