Friendship: The Elegance of the Hedgehog by Muriel Barbery
Friendship's particular dynamics in the lives of introverts is a major theme of a novel that became a bestseller in France in the 2000s.
What does friendship mean for introverts? The Elegance of the Hedgehog by Muriel Barbery, published in French in 2006 and in English in 2008, offers a compelling answer. The book takes place in a small building of apartments in a posh neighborhood of Paris.
The building’s 54-year-old concierge, Renée, is a self-educated widow who reads Marx and other philosophers, listens intelligently to highbrow classical music and adores cerebral Japanese films. Yet by keeping her TV soundlessly on all the time, she cultivates the appearance of a doltish, lazy, lower-class woman. Hiding behind this deliberate façade protects her from others’ curiosity and ridicule.