It was a privilege to have the opportunity to exchange with author Hervé Le Tellier on his best-selling novel “The Anomaly” yesterday. This book had a real impact on me and many people around me, in its thought-provoking reflection on the place of technology in an increasingly digital world, and the human condition within it.
This book tells the story of a flight Air France which enters a terrifying storm. The plane – inexplicably – duplicates: for every passenger on board that day, there are now two – a double with the same mind, body and memories. One plane leaves the storm in March. The other doesn’t land until June.
Here are some main takeaways from the conversation we shared, and I hope you love the recording!
✴ Hervé conducted incredibly rich research and interviews in order to compile a book where characters whose professions, classes, genders and personalities varied greatly, would feel reel. This gives an uncanny sense of reality.
✴ The book deals with the hypothesis of a digitally simulated world. At first, Hervé wanted to write a book about “confronting yourself”. Then, it also became an opportunity to reflect on the nature of the novel, as a world in which fiction and reality collide. “What is a feeling? What is a sensation?”, he asks. The notion that the world could be simulated does not take away the beauty that we experience. “You fall in love, you are hurt… What is the difference between a simulated and a real life?”.
✴ Drawing on Moore’s Law, Hervé explains the importance of simulation in our world: “We are more and more in simulations, we try to simulate what the world will be like after Covid, after the climate Crisis”. The idea of simulation was, to him, powered by greater developments in computing.
✴ The book also deals with duplication, as each character is faced with a double of themselves. “Every writer has a fantasy of a double life”, he explains. They are able to build life to escape from their own, because we don’t all live in an adventure!
✴ When asked which book he would take on a desert island, Hervé responded “A la Recherche du Temps Perdu” (Proust), because it is lengthy, but also because many of its sentences have become part of our common language!
✴ Hervé has just about processed the immensity of winning an award as prestigious as the Prix Goncourt. This happened late in his career, and he received the Goncourt very peacefully. “There’s no way I’m going to do better, so I have no more pressure!”, he said. I disagreed and said there was so much more to come from him!
I was stunned by the brilliance of his mind, his honesty, and humble approach to his work. I encourage all of you to get a copy of “The Anomaly”, currently translated into 45 languages!
Link to the recording: https://bit.ly/38xKs3x