Although Thomas is constantly reassured that he can leave the building, he seems to be separated forever from the world he has left behind. The story consists of Thomas's frustrated attempts to clarify his status as a resident in the building and his misguided interactions with the cast of sickly, depraved, or in some way deformed characters he meets, none of them ever quite what they seem to be. Aminadab, the man who according to legend guards the entrance to the building's underground spaces, is only one of the mysteries reified by the rumors circulating among the residents.
Written in a prose that is classical and at times lyrical, Blanchot's novel functions as an allegory referring, above all, to the wandering and striving movement of writing itself.
2002 French-American Foundation Translation Prize, sponsored by the Florence Gould Foundation and the French-American Foundation, fiction category co-winner