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  • Published: 16 April 2018
  • ISBN: 9781784703196
  • Imprint: Vintage
  • Format: Paperback
  • Pages: 400
  • RRP: $24.99

The 7th Function of Language

An electrifying literary conspiracy thriller from the internationally bestselling author of HHhH.

'One of the funniest, most riotously inventive and enjoyable novels you’ll read this year' - Observer

Roland Barthes is knocked down in a Paris street by a laundry van. It’s February 1980 and he has just come from lunch with Francois Mitterrand. Barthes dies soon afterwards. History tells us it was an accident.

But what if it were an assassination? What if Barthes was carrying a document of unbelievable, global importance? A document explaining the seventh function of language – an idea so powerful it gives whoever masters it the ability to convince anyone, in any situation, to do anything.

Police Captain Jacques Bayard and his reluctant accomplice Simon Herzog set off on a chase that takes them from the corridors of power to backstreet saunas and midnight meetings. What they discover is a worldwide conspiracy involving the President, murderous Bulgarians and a secret international debating society.

  • Published: 16 April 2018
  • ISBN: 9781784703196
  • Imprint: Vintage
  • Format: Paperback
  • Pages: 400
  • RRP: $24.99

About the author

Laurent Binet

Laurent Binet lives and works in France. His first novel, HHhH, was an international bestseller which won the prestigious Prix Goncourt du premier roman, among other prizes.

Also by Laurent Binet

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Praise for The 7th Function of Language

A playful conspiracy thriller.

Guardian, 2017 Books of the Year

A rollicking crime caper about the death of Roland Barthes. It had me rolling on the floor of the Paris Metro when I read it.

Alex Preston, Observer, 2017 Books of the Year

[A] global conspiracy thriller involving French philosopher Roland Barthes and a deadly new language.

Metro, 2017 Books of the Year

The writing is subtly done and the pages are turning and the intrigue grows. As does the smile – the language is entertaining


Establishes Laurent Binet as the clear heir to the late Umberto Eco, writing novels that are both brilliant and playful, dense with ideas while never losing sight of their need to entertain... One of the funniest, most riotously inventive and enjoyable novels you’ll read this year

Alex Preston, Observer

Lively, earthy, experimental, ambitious, clever and endlessly entertaining… Smart, witty, direct, cool

Hal Jensen, The Times Literary Supplement

Incredibly timely ... very entertaining, like a dirty Midnight in Paris for the po-mo set

Lauren Elkin, Guardian

The premise is a stroke of genius. Roland Barthes did not die following an accident in 1980; he was murdered… The strands of the plot are skilfully interwoven through a dual process of fictionalisation of the real and realisation of the fictional

Andrew Gallix, Financial Times

A hugely entertaining novel, taking delight in its own twists and turns

Nicholas Lezard, Spectator

An almost filmic detective romp, taking in glamorous international locations, killer dogs, Bulgarian secret agents, several varieties of sex and wild car chases

Andrew Hussey, Literary Review

A smart spoof thriller, cheekily taking as its cat the most famous Parisian intellectuals in the scene in 1980… It’s all fun and games, ever so clever, and highly self-congratulatory for those of us who wasted years studying the abstruse and ultimately worthless theories of these French thinkers

David Sexton

Laurent Binet is possessed of something like Superman’s X-ray vision combined with a million lasers. When he gets something in his sights, that thing is dead. And what he kills in his new novel is literary theory, in all its fake unuseful stupidity…. Reading Binet gives you that rare pleasure of feeling that you’re losing your grip on reality… What Binet can do with a scene, a paragraph, is beyond belief… One suspects Binet will make, or perhaps already has made, a lot of enemies with his jaw-droppingly disrespectful, extremely witty and – yes – heartfelt book. But one thing’s for sure, he’ll know how to handle them

Todd McEwan, Herald

Admirably ambitious romp of a thing that reads like a thinking-man's Da Vinci Code, if such a thing were ever conceivable… This is hugely entertaining, laugh-out-loud stuff

Hilary A White, UK Press Syndication

It’s a rollicking ride, with Michel Foucault, Jacques Derrida, Julia Kristeva and a preening Bernard Henri-Lévy popping up to have their say… I dare you to read it and not hum the Pink Panther theme throughout

Shahida Barl, The Times Higher Education Supplement

On one level it’s a nostalgic look at a period in which French thinkers spent less time brooding on national identity… And on another it’s an exercise in pure intellectual slapstick of the kind that French humourists do well… It’s possible that his novel shares a few shreds of DNA with Zoolander

Christopher Tayler, London Review of Books

Yes, structuralism and semiotics feature prominently, but never in an alienating way – if anything, it’s a playful introduction to critical theory. And it’s great to see behemoths of the French philosophical establishment like Foucault and Lacan taken down a peg or two in some downright feral cameos

Francesca Carington, Tatler

Laurent Binet’s The 7th Function of Language…was the most outrageously entertaining novel of the year, a defamatory fantasy about the supposed secret lives of eminent post-structuralists. A joy

Philip Hensher, Guardian

A conspiracy thriller about the death of the French literary theorist, Roland Barthes, that draws on the work of Jacques Derrida and Dan Brown with tongue firmly in cheek—to hilarious effect.

The Economist

A hoot from start to finish.

Hilary A. White and Tanya Sweeney, Irish Independent