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The Investigation

3.16  ·  Rating details ·  832 ratings  ·  154 reviews
A wild, Kafka-esque romp through a dystopian landscape, probing the darkly comic nature of the human condition.

The Investigator is a man quite like any other. He is balding, of medium build, dresses conservatively—in short, he is unremarkable in every way. He has been assigned to conduct an Investigation of a series of suicides (twenty-two in the past eighteen months) tha
Hardcover, 240 pages
Published July 10th 2012 by Nan A. Talese (first published 2010)
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3.16  · 
Rating details
 ·  832 ratings  ·  154 reviews

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Roger Brunyate
Jul 04, 2017 rated it really liked it
Surreal Abstraction

The situation may be familiar to those who have traveled to provincial French towns: the station a mile or two from the center, the wait in persistent rain for a taxi that never comes, the indifferent bar across the square with little substantial to offer, the long walk into town dragging a heavy suitcase; the search in grey deserted streets for a serviceable hotel. These are only a few of the misfortunes that the protagonist of this novel, known only as the Investigator, mus
This is a might weird book. First of all, none of the characters have names. The main character, known only as the Investigator, is sent to investigate a rash of suicides in the Enterprise, a vast complex in an unnamed city.

After he arrives, the whole rest of the book is about his futile efforts to succeed in his appointed task. A series of bizarre misadventures constantly render him unable to do so.

While at times the book is quite macabre, it is also hilariously funny in parts. Many other revie
Mar 13, 2012 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: reviewed
Abominably bad.

The Investigation is an unabashedly philosophical novel (or is it axiomatic that a French novel would be philosophical?), and my view is that novels certainly contain ideas but should not be about ideas: they should be about people, actions, emotions.

The people in "The Investigation" are not people; they are roles, explicitly (and generically) titled: The Investigator, the Guard, the Psychologist, the Night Clerk (only one character is given even a name that rises above genericn
Friederike Knabe
Feb 16, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: french-lit
This epigraph of Philippe Claudel's L'Enquête ("The Investigation") - "Pour les prochains, afin qu'ils ne soient pas les suivants" - is an intriguing play on words in French that may be adequately be translated with "For those who come after us so that they won't be[come] followers". *) With his recent, extraordinarily thought provoking and disturbing novel Claudel takes the reader on an investigative journey into the depths of existentialist probing: What comprises an individual? How much are w ...more
Andy Weston
Feb 23, 2017 rated it really liked it
Too long a gap between reading this and Brodeck's Report I fear. Brodeck was wonderful, strange and worrying, and very different with the great location of a small French village. The Investigation is a degree or more stranger. As the book continues it gets weirder.

The Investigator arrives at The Enterprise to conduct an investigation into an abnormally large number of recent suicides; hangings, drownings, suffocations, slit wrists, burnings, jumps and poisons. After getting off the train he is
I won The Investigation by Philippe Claudel in a giveaway for free on Goodreads First/Reads. I enjoyed this book- it was a quick read. The chapters are short so it was easy to keep going. I was struggling on what my rating should be either three or four stars- ultimately I gave the book four stars. *If half stars were permitted- I would have given the book a 3.5* I think this book is one that some will love and some will hate. The ending surprised me*** I'm going to read this book again because ...more
Jan 22, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
Wow, this is a powerful book. The way the writer takes you through the story and this man's task, one quickly realizes that our own lives are reflected in this dream like state. I don't want to say too much because half of the beauty of it is not being sure what is really going on! It definitely was a wake up call for me and my own state of being. I highly recommend it.
Jul 02, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2019, fiction
4.5 stars

The Modern Monarch
"Monarchs today no longer have heads or faces. They are complex financial mechanisms, algorithms, projections, speculations about risks and losses, fifth-degree equations. Their thrones are intangible, they’re screens, they’re fibre-optic cables, printed circuit boards, and their blue blood is the encrypted information that circulates faster than the speed of light. Their castles have become data banks."

The Investigator is sent to discover why several of The Firm's e
Claudia  -
Nov 26, 2017 rated it it was amazing
The Investigator arrives in a town in order to investigate a series of suicides in The Firm, a large conglomerate dominating everything.

From the moment the Investigator arrives, everything goes wrong and he is thwarted in every way. Bewildering townsfolk, baffling inanimate objects, even the weather is either too hot or too cold. The town’s inhabitants do no not have names but are defined by their roles and the Policeman, the Guard, the Giantess are either unhelpful or overly solicitous. Trudgin
Gibin Mathew
Jun 29, 2018 rated it liked it
A weird story !

This is not a conventional story with normal settings and characters .No character/place in this story have names or identity ,but rather mentioned as and generic names or numbers. The style/pattern of this story is compared to that of the famous writer 'Kafka',but I couldn't confirm that since I have not read any by him. However I felt a great resemblance with the book "Shutter Island" ,both in style and contend. As you progress through the chapters it is confusing and dark ,brin
Charlotte Jones
Jan 02, 2019 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: owned
I have been looking to try something by Philippe Claudel for a while so I was happy to pick this up in the Waterstones sale with a Christmas giftcard. 

Translated from French, this is one of the oddest books I've read in a long time but a quick page-turner to kick start my 2019 reads. I can completely understand why this has very mixed reviews because the writing did feel a little overwritten at times and the plot itself was just strange. The characters were unfathomable and the whole thing very
Dec 21, 2018 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Not only did I read this book but I read what the author had in mind AND heard the author speak about the book recently. This is not Kafka, as he points out, but is more inspired in films like "Barton Fink" and "Brazil", and silent-screen comedians like Charlie Chaplin - but I think it missed on all counts. Instead of being amusing, it was tedious, and instead of ending as a comment on the dehumanizing effect of today's "megapolitan" society, it ends with a cliché that was obvious from pages bac ...more
Sis Miller
Apr 27, 2018 rated it really liked it
Kafka + Camus = The Investigation
Mar 12, 2018 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
When you realise that this is actually a contemporary guide book for HR managers it makes a lot more sense.
Chuhang Yin
Jun 11, 2019 rated it did not like it
A hundred pages into the book I had no clue what was going on. Then I read the last 5 pages but still couldn't figure it out. A truly puzzling book.
Jul 01, 2012 rated it liked it
Shelves: foreign-lit
Kafkaesque. It's one of a handful of literary terms that is really overworked. But I challenge anyone to read Phillipe Claudel's The Investigation without that word coming to mind. Ultimately, though, Claudel adds a surrealistic resolution that may baffle readers.

Claudel's book tells of the Investigator, sent to an unnamed city to investigate a series of suicides among workers at the Enterprise, a huge company that produces products that cover the range of human activities. The Investigator fi
Mar 12, 2017 rated it liked it
Never thought the story line would be so weird after half of the book. But I know, will never get to know the answer of what the Investigator thought about what the Founder has founded.
Holly Weiss
Nov 09, 2011 rated it really liked it
Shelves: to-review
The Investigation: A Novel. Releases July 2012. A Hysterical and Bleak View of Life

The Investigator, an average man like a million others, finds himself in a dystopian, unnamed city. His mission: to investigate twenty suicides. What he encounters is vastly different than anything he can imagine.

The Investigation: A Novel is a bizarre and oddly entertaining book. The reader is quickly swept into a bleak, confusing experience that mirrors the dark side of our existence. The Investigator’s frustra
Simon Mcleish
This review first appeared on my blog here.

Even the very shortest summary of The Investigation makes the main feature of the novel immediately apparent. The Investigator is sent to look into a series of suicides at the Firm, and has a series of strange experiences in the Town. This immediately shows that virtually nothing in the book is named directly, everything being given a role in a way which makes the novel seem to be full of symbols (these substitutes where names are normally used are alwa
Jun 23, 2016 rated it liked it
Shelves: mystery, library
Originally published on Unravellations.

I find myself at a loss of what to say about The Investigation.

At first it was like an Alice-in-Wonderland-esque tumble down a rabbit hole into infinite loops of absurd nonsense, but then in the second half, it takes a grimmer turn and tone and by the end of the book, you're really left questioning what was the point of it all. Or was that the point?

A lot of online comments mentioned how The Investigation was Kafka-esque. I'm going to admit here that I've n
Tony Laplume
Jul 08, 2016 rated it really liked it
About halfway through, I was ready to quit reading The Investigation. I was legitimately fed up with it. But then something changed. I realized what I was reading. Claudel's story has been compared to Kafka, to Huxley, but the truth is, he wrote a Monty Python book, as later envisioned in the films of Terry Gilliam.

In Brazil, for instance, Gilliam envisioned an office worker in the future driven mad by the absurdity of the world around him. When you reach the end of The Investigation, you learn
Full Stop
Jun 11, 2014 added it
Shelves: fall-2012

Review by Daniel Green

Most discussions of Philippe Claudel’s fiction eventually identify Kafka as a likely influence, some even describing his narratives as “Kafkaesque.” If anything, The Investigation, the most recent of Claudel’s books to be translated into English, makes it unmistakably clear that such comparisons are entirely accurate, but it might also prompt us to consider the implications of the comparison more carefully. Kafka’s undeniable greatnes
Mar 26, 2013 rated it liked it
Shelves: reviewed
The Investigator arrives on a train and finds that there is no taxi waiting for him. He has come to conduct an Investigation at The Enterprise. He starts walking blindly, sure that he will find his way. He asks for directions. Pretty much everything belongs to The Enterprise, he is told. Any road will lead him there, one way or another. It starts to snow.

His suitcase breaks. His socks, toothpaste, and polyester pants spill into the wet streets. He blunders on and finds The Guardhouse. The Guard
Sep 03, 2012 rated it liked it
Shelves: your-library, kafka
If you think the only thing missing from Kafka is mobile telephony (which naturally doesn't avail), then this book is for you. But if you think Kafka is perfect, or you don't like Kafka, you'll probably have some misgivings about Philippe Claudel's "The Investigation".[return][return]Well, that's harsh. I adore Kafka, and I enjoyed this enough to read all of it in two days. And to be fair, it's not just Kafka governing this (there's a reason I'm mentioning Kafka in every sentence) - sometimes th ...more
Jeff Scott
Jun 20, 2012 rated it really liked it
Anyone who reads this should be prepared that it’s a stark metaphor for Existentialism. The individual is ignored, no names are given (just capitalized functions like The Investigator, The Guide, The Policeman, etc.), and the purpose of existence is questioned. I never liked existential books like The Stranger. This idea that there is no point to existence since you have no control and only a matter of time before death seems to me a depressing and possibly destructive way to go through life. It ...more
Jun 14, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The society described is not real nor realistic as to the concept of a city, the concept of a company. On the level of situations and on that of the people’s behavior it’s the same: not as we know it. Or: not as we like to know it, acknowledge it. There’s a whole other set of rules of people interacting. A strong aspect of the novel, I think, is in the shifting perspective: finding recognizable conversations with logic statements and conclusions as a normal situation, turning around into finding ...more
Dec 27, 2012 rated it liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Sep 04, 2012 rated it liked it
The jacket flap describes this as Kafkaesque. Coincidently, my husband is reading "The Trial" right now, and when he described it to me it did sound absurd in the same way this novel is absurd. So there you go, the book is Kafkaesque -- one of those adjectives that sounds impressive whether you liked the book or not.

And, for the most part, I did like the book. The Investigator arrives in an unnamed town to look into the suicides that have been plaguing The Enterprise. Immediately, his life begin
Jul 05, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Review based on ARC.

Yup. I really liked this one. So I started reading it, and then kept reading it, and kept reading it, until I was about a third of the way through and realized i was starving. So we went to go eat.

Then I went home and kept reading it.

And here's where it gets trippy. Admittedly, I was exhausted... just... so .... tired. But, see, I kept reading. And I started questioning reality, and my existence, and WHY is that light so bright... and who's keeping my husband away from me? AM
Jun 03, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: just-kinda-weird
The Investigation in three words - surreal, absurd, enchanting. It's a difficult book to review because, while I very much enjoyed reading it, I really don't feel like the writing and plot combination is all that great. Though I grasped some of the satirical points being made about modern society, I did not think they were very clear in the story. Their obscured, sporadic state seemed to indicate that they were not actually the main message of the book, leaving this ulterior meaning to be nonexi ...more
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Philippe Claudel is a French writer and film director.
His most famous work to date is the novel " Les Âmes Grises " - " Grey Souls ", which won the prix Renaudot award in France, was shortlisted for the American Gumshoe Award, and won Sweden's Martin Beck Award. In addition to his writing, Philippe Claudel is a Professor of Literature at the University of Nancy.
“Un pauvre et banal philosophe qui portait une culotte de femme et un jogging vert pomme, débitait de pauvres pensées, usées comme de vieilles casseroles lasses de cuire toujours les mêmes soupes.” 1 likes
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