The Grande Odalisque by Jérôme Mulot, Florent Ruppert and Bastien Vivès review – escapist fun

A ‘Houellebecquian manifesto on art’ will transport you across the world in the company of three sassy female criminals

If you like comics, and you’re also in need of some serious, escapist fun – at the moment, surely that’s pretty much all of us – I suggest that you dive straight into The Grande Odalisque, a new book from a cartoon supergroup comprising Jérôme Mulot, Florent Ruppert and Bastien Vivès (in France, where this book has already been described as, among other things, a “Houellebecquian manifesto on art”, its authors are celebrated prize winners). It will take you, I’d guess, about an hour to read and for every one of those 60 minutes you’ll be somewhere else entirely: the galleries of the Louvre, a Spanish beach, the streets of Mexico City. Even better, you’ll be in the company of three smart and sexy female criminals who take the men on at their own game and win.

When The Grande Odalisque begins, Carole and Alex, best friends for many years, are in the middle of casually stealing a Manet from the Musée d’Orsay in Paris and it’s all going pretty well until Alex’s mobile phone bleeps (she’s waiting outside, in the getaway car, while Carole cuts the canvas from its frame). Uh oh. It’s so unhelpful when boyfriend trouble arrives to distract you just as your accomplice is about to be attacked by an alsatian. “Sorry, I got another call,” she says, sounding not very apologetic at all, as Carole, having ninja-kicked the dog and its handler to the ground, finally appears with the booty.

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