Narrated by an unnamed man, The Unforeseen gives us a good look at a most uncommon human. The man, who suffers from a perpetual cold, finds himself alone in a strange city. At the mercy of strangers from beginning to end, he starts going by the name “Serge”. Although he often blurts out an embarrassing detail or two about his current situation, he never really tells anyone about himself, despite the fact he’s been given every opportunity.

You see, this newfound “Serge” has no social skills. Zip. Zero. Zilch. And since every situation he finds himself in is a very social atmosphere, the reader is left dangling between sympathy and outright laughter. Our stiff and obsessive narrator never seems to see himself as lacking social skills – in fact, he appears to think he’s the sort that goes the extra mile in politeness and decorum. But social graces he has none. The reader can only guess at what are the true reactions of those he meets along his journey, as “Serge” seems a little confused as to what people are actually thinking.

The Unforeseen was originally written by Christian Oster in French, published first in 2006 as L’imprevu. Oster has published 12 novels in all, including My Big Apartment, winning him the Prix M├ędicis in 1999. He currently resides in Paris.

The novel was translated by Adriana Hunter who managed to keep the prose fluid, and the style is consistent throughout. The subtleties of the narrator’s ability to make others slightly uncomfortable were no doubt tricky to translate, yet they remain humorously intact.

If you would like to win a copy of The Unforeseen and perhaps brush up on how to embarrass yourself in public, I have a copy to give one winner. Enter before midnight, April 29, 2008.

3 Ways to Enter:

1.) Leave a comment telling me what interests you about the book. (Something more than “sounds good” is kindly suggested.) If you’d like, you can instead tell me something you did that embarrassed you in public, but this is just to make things more interesting, and besides I’m nosy.

2.) Subscribers are automatically entered into this and all future giveaways. Just enter your email address in the little white box on the upper part of the right hand column. (Please make sure to verify your Feedburner subscription by responding to the email they send you. If you don’t receive it, check your junk mail.)

3.) Blog about this giveaway on your blog with a link back.

Do all three, and you’ve got three entries to win!


  1. Very interesting writing style. I know a few people who have to be told how to act in public because of personality style or autism and this is a book I would love to read.

  2. Sounds like a very interesting book that may be a little hard to read. Sometimes the truth hurts. Thanks for the chance.

  3. ty 4 the nice contest!

  4. intriguing book where I can learn to understand another culture!sounds very french!!!!

  5. Being the Queen of Clumsy, I think that this book would fit me well…

  6. Intriguing cover photograph

  7. Nobody moves! nobody gets hurt.

  8. When I laugh really, really hard, my throat makes some sort of funky sound, like a goose honking or someone…well, passing gas, I suppose! One evening, after performing a play, my castmates and I went out to eat. Afterward, someone made me laugh out in the parking lot and I let loose one of my hard laughs, and boy, was it a long one. Everyone around me thought I tooted…and it was so funny, I kept laughing – – hard! Oh, my!

  9. Somehow this plot summary makes me think of Inspector Clouseau. I hope Serge gives me the same enjoyment that Peter Sellers provided.

  10. Just recently I tripped on a bump in the carpet at the door of the Church. Trying to catch myself, I punched the Deacon in the stomach. I don’t know when or how I will live this one down.

  11. I am intrigued that Serge has no social skills. I guess we can all relate to a situation that we have been in where we are unsure how to conduct ourselves.

  12. I like books with unusual perspectives. A guy who can’t get a read on people sounds really interesting.


  14. I’d like to read this book because it has been a long time since I read something really funny and this book sounds hilarious. I’d love to have the chance! Thanks.

  15. One night I was out at a club looking all cute in my short skirt and 4-inch heels until I tripped and landed straight on my face.. real smooth! Actually, Serge sounds worst off than me, no social skills.. ouch! Sounds embarrassing too, I can relate that’s for sure!

  16. What have I not done to embarass myself in public? I think the best one is walking out of the bathroom with my skirt hiked up and not realizing it until I got some really funny looks in class as I was showing everyone my underwear (college… yeh.. um..)

    That was just a month ago.

    I blogged you contest as well at Prize-A-Tron

  17. This book from the review really
    interests me how someone can get
    around in a place with no
    social skills.Im really wanting to read this one

  18. the premise of Serge having no social skills is fascinating!

  19. I’m interested in reading about someone without social skills and his or her struggles through life.

  20. It sounds rather like a book I just finished reading, the Country Life. Curious to compare the two!