Desirable Body Hubert Haddad, Alyson Waters

The Margellos World Republic of Letters
Publication date:
16 Oct 2018
Yale University Press
232 pages: 197 x 127 x 14mm
Sales territories:
World (non-exclusive throughout the Indian subcontinent)

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A medical mystery/fantasy/love story that delves deeply into the nature of consciousness while raising many of the ethical and existential issues facing scientists today

A contemporary Frankenstein that defies expectations, this is a thrilling novel, couched in luminous, captivating prose about a journalist, Cédric Allyn-Weberson, who suffers a horrific accident, paralyzing him from the neck down. An ideal candidate for a body transplant, Cédric survives the surgery but has both physical and existential trouble with his recovery and adaptation: encountering his lover with a new body, discovering the life history of his donor, and attempting to understand the mind-body relationship as he lives it.

Haddad explores the confusion and insignificance of a single consciousness before experience and identity: What is a head without a body? What or who is a lover with another’s body? The gruesome transplant (detailed in a manner that highlights the author’s own diligent research and comprehension) parallels other ways humanity mutates nature globally; the novel is a provocative and timely allegory—a work of dystopian fantasy.

Hubert Haddad is a French author born in Tunisia—a novelist, an art historian, a playwright, and an essayist. Alyson Waters is an award-winning translator, the managing editor of Yale French Studies, and a senior lecturer in the department of French at Yale University.

“[Desirable Body] updates Mary Shelley’s monster with today’s biotechnological wonders . . . real and disturbing questions emerge about how scientific advances exacerbate our yearning for immortality.”—New Yorker

Desirable Body is about more than one decapitated man’s unusual plight; it’s about how surprisingly little our choices have to do with our feelings and passions. A farce, then, and a sharp one: it’s funny to contemplate, but if you fell into its toils for a second, you’d die screaming in horror.” — Simon Ings, The Guardian

“This novel raises terribly timely ethical and existential questions in an atmosphere of ceaseless suspense.”—Mémoire des Arts on the French edition of Desirable Body

“Hubert Haddad’s limpid and realistic prose is captivating.”—Terra Eco on the French edition of Desirable Body

“In book after book, Hubert Haddad proves the seriousness and importance of his work.”— Yves Viollier, La vie on the French edition of Desirable Body

“Once again [Hubert Haddad] confirms the multifaceted dimension of his talent in this mesmerizing tale where the unimaginable is imagined and the inconceivable is conceived.”—La croix on the French edition of Desirable Body

Desirable Body is as surprising as it is masterful.”—La Montagne on the French edition of Desirable Body