A murder mystery told through the eyes of a nosy neighbor. Only there’s not so much mystery, and the neighbor is so cooky she can’t stay away. I’ve seen Carnage but I’ve never read Reza despite wanting to, so this is a first. And I can see how she comes from a theatrical background: the dramaturgy of the character is beyond comparison. I was so gripped with Elisabeth’s narrative from the beginning that if I didn’t have weird reading patterns, I’d devour the book in one sitting. The inception-like paradox of Babylon is that you read it while rubbernecking as Elisabeth rubbernecks, and morbid curiosity multiplies. It’s like a guilty read minus the guilt: fair-trade organic juiciness. Fun, observant, and witty comedy of the French middle class, somewhere adjacent to Buñuel.
Babylon by Yasmina Reza
Translated by Linda Asher
Published by Seven Stories Press in 2016