This is a book about yoga. Or at least, it was.
Emmanuel Carrère is a renowned writer. After decades of emotional upheaval, he has begun to live successfully—he is healthy; he works; he loves. He practices meditation, striving to observe the world without evaluating it. In this state of heightened awareness, he sets out for a ten-day silent retreat in the French heartland, leaving his phone, his books, and his daily life behind. But he’s also gathering material for his next book, which he thinks will be a pleasant, useful introduction to yoga.
Four days later, there’s a tap on the window: something has happened. Forced to leave the retreat early, he returns to a Paris in crisis. Life is derailed. His city is in turmoil. His work-in-progress falters. His marriage begins to unravel, as does his entanglement with another woman. He wavers between opposites—between self-destruction and self-control; sanity and madness; elation and despair. The story he has told about himself falls away. And still, he continues to live.
This is a book about one man’s desire to get better, and to be better. It is laced with doubt, animated by the dangerous interplay between what is fiction and what is real. Loving, humorous, harrowing and profound, Yoga hurls us towards the outer edges of consciousness, where, finally, we can see things as they really are.
John Lambert has translated Monsieur, Reticence, and Self-Portrait Abroad by Jean-Philippe Toussaint, as well as Emmanuel Carrère’s Limonov. He lives in Nantes with his wife and three children.
Praise for Yoga
“Fascinating . . . Funny . . . Carrère’s work revolves around a practice of extreme—deranged, even—candor . . . I would gladly read a hundred pages of Carrère scrutinizing the 'huge caverns' of his nostrils, lingering on the way that air prickles and tingles against their walls.”
—Molly Young, The New York Times Book Review
“A devastating portrait . . . [Carrère’s] singular, ever-expanding work, in which one pain need never obscure another, in which truths and half-truths are held not in opposition but in delicate, precarious balance, is an answer in itself.”
—Sam Byers, The Guardian
“[Yoga] is a tour de force.”
—Sarah Richmond, The Times Literary Supplement
“Carrère remains a fascinating character on the page, and his lithe confessional writing will resonate with longtime fans. The result is another marvelous creation from Carrère’s boundless imagination.”
—Publishers Weekly (starred review)
“Vivid . . . an intimate chronicle punctuated by loss, desperation, and trauma . . . a probing memoir.”
Praise for Emmanuel Carrère
“Carrère has managed to write one masterpiece after another . . . He is widely understood as France’s greatest writer of nonfiction.”
—Wyatt Mason, The New York Times Magazine
“Carrère is masterly both at singling out the telling detail and at grasping and conveying his subject as a whole . . . What is most compelling about his work is the quality of his mind, of his thinking. Of the scourging pressure of his need to understand.”
—Robert Gottlieb, The New York Times Book Review
“Carrère has become celebrated for his propulsive, original, free-ranging narratives, which frequently mix memoir, biography, and fiction . . . He is such engrossing and charming company—witty, restless, intellectually bold, confessional, shame-proof.”
—James Wood, The New Yorker
“Emmanuel Carrère is known for the way he bends and breaks genres . . . The core of Mr. Carrère’s talent is precisely that he brings readers into sympathetic contact with others, powerful and powerless, insiders and outsiders."
—The Economist (UK)
“The most exciting living writer.”
—Karl Ove Knausgaard