Told in the first person, the novel is based on the author's own experiences during the First World War, in French colonial Africa, in the USA - where he worked for a while at the Ford factory in Detroit - and later as a young doctor in a working-class suburb in Paris. Celine's disgust with human folly, malice, greed and the chaotic state in which man has left society lies behind the bitterness that distinguishes his idiosyncratic, colloquial and visionary writing and gives it its force.
'My favourite French classic has to be Journey to the End of the Night by Louis-Ferdinand Celine. It's an epic that takes you all around the world, but the centre of the world is Paris, or Celine's delirious, slightly hallucinatory, incredibly poetic vision of it.' Andrew Hussey, The Guardian