Special Envoy

Written by Jean Echenoz | Translated by Sam Taylor
Translated by Sam Taylor
The New Press
October 2017

A dazzling satirical spy novel, part La Femme Nikita, part Pink Panther, and part Le Carré—from one of the world’s preeminent authors

Special Envoy begins with an old general in his dilapidated office in France’s intelligence agency asking his trusted lieutenant Paul Objat for ideas about a person he wants for a particular job: someone pretty, female, and easily manipulated. Objat has someone in mind: Constance, an attractive, restless, bored woman in a failing marriage to a washed-up pop musician. She is abducted by Objat’s cronies and spirited away into the bowels of France’s intelligence bureaucracy where she is trained for the mission to spearhead the destabilization of Kim Jong-un’s regime in North Korea.

Will Constance survive her mission in Pyongyang? Will her feckless husband ever write another pop hit? Joyously strange and unpredictable, full of twists and coincidences, Special Envoy is, in the words of L’Express, “a pure gem, a delight at all times, a comedy monument, a celebration of the French language.”

About the author: Jean Echenoz

Jean Echenoz won France’s prestigious Prix Goncourt for I’m Gone (The New Press). He is the author of eleven novels in English translation—including 1914, Big Blondes, Lightning, Piano, Ravel, Running, and Special Envoy, all published by The New Press—and the winner of numerous literary prizes, among them the Prix Médicis and the European Literature Jeopardy Prize. He lives in Paris.


“Witty, passionate, Echenoz’s novels are often the opposite of realistic—playful fantasies in which characters bounce in and out of sight like acrobats on a trampoline, with plots that hopscotch wildly over time and space.” — Max Byrd, The New York Times Book Review

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