An unsettling novel. Short and deceptively simple, it is written from the point of view of someone who lives by the existentialist code – we are here, we live, we die – there is no meaning behind it all. The book captures really well how repellent this is to ‘normal’ people, who take cognizance of feelings like loyalty and ideas like right and wrong.

It is not an existentialist manifesto – far from it, in my opinion. But it does highlight the questions asked by the existentialist world view and invites our sympathy for those who have the courage and integrity to live it, rather than just talk about it.

I read the Penguin translation, by Joseph Laredo, which is excellent.