Translated from the original French by George Miller
Everyday Mathilde takes the Metro to the office of a large multinational, where she works in the marketing department. And every day Thibault, a paramedic, drives to the addresses he receives from his controler. Mathilde is unhappy at work, frozon out of office life by her moody boss.
Meanwhile, Thibault is unhappy in love and all too aware that he may be the only human being many of the people he visits will see for the entire day. Mathilde and Thibault seem to be just two anonymous figures in a crowded city, pushed and shoved and pressured continuously by the isolating urban world. But surely these two complementary souls, travelling along separate paths, must meet?
About the Author
Delphine de Vigan is the author of several novels, including Jolis Garçons, Soir de décembre and Les heures souterraines. No and Me, published simultaneously in young adult and adult editions by Bloomsbury in March 2010, and then in paperback in August 2010, is her first novel to be published in English; it was a bestseller in France, where it was awarded the Prix des Libraires (The Booksellers’ Prize) in 2008, and was also a bestseller in Italy.
Her second novel, Underground Time, published in April 2011 and in paperback in February 2012, is a novel of quiet violence – the violence of office-bullying, the violence of the brutality of the city – in which two characters move towards an inevitable meeting.
The story exposes the brutal truth of what the big city really is. It is a story about being lost and solitude. About a man and a woman who lose control over their lives. It makes us think about Mathilde and Thibault – people we pass everyday in the street. And think what would happen if we were them.
There are two victims in this novel: a markting manager who is at the mercy, or lack of mercy, of a ruthless corporate machine that has the power to destroy lives and a paramedic who is a slave to the central control which dispatches him to the sick, the dying, the helpless and the hopeless. Set within a single day, those two disparate and quietly desperate people look out on their soulless and loveless urban world, pushed and shoved by pressures they cannot control. A contemplation of the potential and often very real brutality of 21st century city life. An elegant and eloquent prose.
Underground Time is a great novel; it presents the brutality of a city, in which our two characters move towards an inevitable meeting.