Vernon Subutex by Virginie Despentes selected for the Man Booker International Prize. – Whole culture

Virginie Despentes is officially part of the “short-list” of authors selected to receive the prestigious Man Booker International Prize on May 22 at a ceremony at the Victoria and Albert Museum in London. Since its creation in 2005, no French author has yet been rewarded. Will the French writer be the first to receive it? Let’s hope so. The first volume of his Vernon Subutex trilogy, selected for the occasion, is a book to have in his library.


Created in 2005, the Man Booker International Prize is awarded twice a year to a fiction by a foreign author (and his translator since 2016) whose work has been translated into English and published in the United Kingdom in the year. Accompanied by £50,000, world renown and record sales, this prestigious award is always eagerly awaited, its quality of selection being undeniable. The last winner, the Israeli David Grossman, renowned for his committed essays, offered his readers through his award-winning novel A horse walks into a bara stylistically impressive work last year.

With the first volume of her Vernon Subutex trilogy (published between 2015 and 2017), the French writer and member of the Goncourt Academy, Virginie Despentes has every chance on her side to be the new winner of the Man Booker International Prize. Translated in eleven countries, sold more than 700,000 copies in France, awarded four times (only for the first volume) and soon adapted to the cinema, the trilogy has already proven itself in France. Thanks to her atypical style, raw, trashy, dark, incisive and without filters, the author of fuck me (1993) brings to life many absolutely fantastic anti-heroes.*

Vernon, an old child of rock and record store in Paris, is forced to close up shop. Already in “hibernation mode” for a few months (or even years), he had sold his own vinyls, posters and most of his stuff on Ebay and paid his rent thanks to one of his old friends, Alex Bleach, who had become a few years earlier a great fame. But the depressed singer overdoses, leaving Vernon permanently destitute…And on the street. Vernon’s drift begins. Through the wandering of the character in temporary accommodation, Virginie Despentes paints a social fresco, a true (in)human comedy, a polyphonic work that makes the voices of the different characters heard on her way. Lost, drug addicted, conquerors or defeated, frustrated screenwriter, specialist in cybernetic lynching, ex-porn star… The list of his Parisian anti-heroes is vast and affects all social strata in which no one is spared. At the same time, it’s a thrilling thriller of which Vernon is unaware that he is the center; it indeed holds precious videos that Alex Bleach made before he died. These two aspects of the novel intertwine and evolve in the following volumes to the delight of the fervent readers of this extraordinary author who knew how to impose her punk style and her napalm humor in French literature.

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Vernon Subutex by Virginie Despentes selected for the Man Booker International Prize. – Whole culture