Rob Doyle at The Guardian:
When the first volume in the punk-feminist writer Virginie Despentes’s Vernon Subutex trilogy appeared in English in 2015, it was a cause for excitement. Here was a big, brash, enjoyable slab of French recession fiction, a social novel full of ageing rockers and party-worn broads who drink cans of lager, DJ in scuzzy clubs and kip on their mates’ couches – the sort of crowd usually refused entry to Parisian literature. Despentes, whose inaugural notoriety was the spree-killing road novel Baise-Moi (she also directed the banned film adaptation), appeared to have matured into a more expansive view of class, gender relations and power dynamics. Vernon Subutex looked as though it might become the kind of generational group portrait that Roberto Bolaño gave us of Mexican youth in The Savage Detectives. The question was whether Despentes, accustomed to snarling her truths over the fictive equivalent of three distorted power-chords, could sustain a project that, by the trilogy’s end, would amass 1,000 pages.