The Anomaly, by Hervé le Tellier

Il est tôt, cinq heures du matin, Louis dort. Dans deux heures, elle le réveillera, to wake, woke, woken, elle préparera le petit déjeuner, to eat, ate, eaten et oui, elle reverra avec lui les verbes irréguliers anglais, au programme de sa cinquième. Mais pour l’instant, Lucie remonte en urgence cette scène d’intérieur d’un Maïwenn qu’elles doivent revoir ensemble avant midi. La nuque douloureuse, les yeux asséchés, elle se lève. Le grand miroir sur la cheminée reflète Pimage d’une femme petite et mince, aux formes aériennes de jeune fille, à la peau pâle, aux traits fins, aux cheveux bruns coupés court. Elle porte sur son fin nez grec de grandes lunettes en écaille, qui lui donnent un air d’étudiante. Elle marche jusqu’à la fenêtre du salon. Lorsqu’elle se sent débordée par la vacuité, c’est toujours à cette vitre froide qu’elle va poser son front. Ménilmontant dort, mais la ville l’aspire. Ce qu’elle voudrait, c’est abandonner son corps et se fondre avec tout ce qui est dehors.It’s early, five in the morning, and Louis’s asleep. In a couple of hours she’ll wake him – to wake, woke, woken – and make breakfast – to eat, ate, eaten – and yes, she’ll help him go through the irregular English verbs in his seventh-grade curriculum. But for now Lucie hastily re-edits the interior scene that she and the director MaIwenn will be looking at together later this morning. She stands up, her neck aching and her eyes dry. The large mirror above the fireplace reflects a small, slim woman with the ethereal figure of a girl; pale skin, fine features, and short-cropped dark hair. On her delicate Greek nose she wears large tortoiseshell glasses that make her look like a student. She walks over to the living-room window. When she feels overwhelmed by the emptiness of it all, this cold glass is where she always comes to rest her forehead. Menilmontant is asleep, but she feels the irresistible draw of the city. She wishes she could abandon her body and dissolve into everything outside.
translated by Adriana Hunter, who also translated The Sexual Life of Catherine M.

It’s unusual for a translated novel to be shortlisted for the Clarke Award, and it’s also unusual for the Prix Goncourt to go to a science fiction novel. This is a really good idea turned into a really good novel: an incoming aircraft turns out to be an exact duplicate of one that has already landed, months previously, and we get to explore the problem of dealing with people who are exactly the same but several months apart in experience, with a smattering of We Are Property. Le Tellier is a leading exponent of the Oulipo school and on this basis I will look for more from that source. Like all the finalists, recommended. You can get it here.