How to Behave in a Crowd (Hardcover)

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As I approached the end of this book I read slower and slower because I didn’t want to stop spending time with Isidore! Nicknamed Dory by his intellectual but socially stunted siblings (although he would really prefer you call him Izzy), Isidore Mazal is the youngest of 6, the only one who hasn’t skipped a grade, and the only one who cares more about others’ feelings than his GPA. He’s the antidote to Holden Caulfield, but he isn’t cloyingly sentimental; he just wants to know why you’re having a bad day and how he can make it better. Isidore navigates adolescence, first love, and grief in this coming-of-age novel which unfolds in a world of adults trying as hard as possible to never grow up. Everyone needs an Isidore in their life, Bordas seems to be saying, but a friend like Izzy requires that we be good custodians of our own worst impulses, lest they decide to run away before you realize too late what you had. 

— From Cal's Picks


A witty, heartfelt novel that brilliantly evokes the confusions of adolescence and marks the arrival of an extraordinary young talent.

Isidore Mazal is eleven years old, the youngest of six siblings living in a small French town. He doesn't quite fit in. Berenice, Aurore, and Leonard are on track to have doctorates by age twenty-four. Jeremie performs with a symphony, and Simone, older than Isidore by eighteen months, expects a great career as a novelist--she's already put Isidore to work on her biography. The only time they leave their rooms is to gather on the old, stained couch and dissect prime-time television dramas in light of Aristotle's Poetics.

Isidore has never skipped a grade or written a dissertation. But he notices things the others don't, and asks questions they fear to ask. So when tragedy strikes the Mazal family, Isidore is the only one to recognize how everyone is struggling with their grief, and perhaps the only one who can help them--if he doesn't run away from home first.

Isidore's unstinting empathy, combined with his simmering anger, makes for a complex character study, in which the elegiac and comedic build toward a heartbreaking conclusion. With How to Behave in a Crowd, Camille Bordas immerses readers in the interior life of a boy puzzled by adulthood and beginning to realize that the adults around him are just as lost.

About the Author

Camille Bordas is the author of two previous novels in French, Les treize desserts and Partie commune. Her fiction has appeared in The New Yorker. Born in France and raised in Mexico City and Paris, she now lives in Chicago.
Product Details
ISBN: 9780451497543
ISBN-10: 0451497546
Publisher: Tim Duggan Books
Publication Date: August 15th, 2017
Pages: 336
Language: English