Month: June 2015

A visit to the morgue

By Loïc Artiaga (translation Daniel Magennis)

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Caption: [Postcard ‘Visite de Mimi à Paris’ (‘Mimi’s trip to Paris’), G. Gervais – editor]

The  ‘Forensics’ exhibition, which  has been showing in London in the Wellcome Library since February, is closing tomorrow. It presents what was one of the most popular attractions of the Belle Époque in Paris: the visit to the morgue. One hundred years ago, corpses which had been put on display in order to aid in their identification found themselves surrounded by curious onlookers seeking to satisfy macabre appetites. The current exhibition documents this historical attraction to the morbid. Its principal goal, however, lies elsewhere. It aims to show the progress of the understanding of death and, entering the modern era, the science applied to the process of solving crimes. A wealth of new knowledge, fed by the illusion that rationality could triumph over the basest of criminals and crimes, would be applied to the corpses laid out on mortuary slabs and, before long, would also be arrayed against what, or whom, put them there. Continue reading

British Golden Age Authors and the classic age of the American Paperbacks

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Raymond Chandler once wrote “The English may not always be the best writers in the world, but they are incomparably the best dull writers”. Himself a British subject for most of his life and career, one of his most obvious targets, conversely, was eminent author of “British-style” mysteries, John Dickson Carr (alias Carter Dickson), who was in fact an American. This is of course not strictly about nations, rather it is about sub-genres of crime fiction and the different forms and interpretations of its evolution. It is also against a well-recognized literary coterie; “the famous Detection Club, which is a Parnassus of English writers of mystery”. The statement helps to build an opposition, mostly between 1920s English mystery novels (and their authors and their readers), and American Pulp magazines of the same decade (and their authors and their readers). Continue reading

Whereabouts unknown

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Less celebrated than its model (and, in ways, polar opposite), Gallimard’s legendary “Série Noire”, the Fleuve Noir series “Spécial Police” was the most popular of all French crime fiction series. It sold hundreds of millions of books and published a total of 2075 novels. Jean Cocteau was among its admirers. It was, needless to say, largely ignored by critics, academic, literary or otherwise. The books tended to be available at train stations, newsagents, and supermarkets rather than in bookshops. You would not expect to find one in a library. Yet, the series was one of the great matrices of literary imagination in France during the second half of the 20th century. Launched in 1949, it continued to publish until 1987. The majority of its more than 300 authors were either French or francophone, save for one Russian, one (prolific) American, two Germans and a handful of other exceptions. It became an amazing pool of creative talent. How many hundreds more submitted manuscripts? In the twenty-eight years since the series ceased to exist, some of the authors who had been published there have fallen into the most complete obscurity. Very little is known about them, not even their names (many used pseudonyms) or what they did next – or even if they are still alive and writing. Who were and who knew André Goss, Michel Coulmer, Sanz Boto, Mike Cooper and J.M. Valente? Who met Thierry Bataille, and Susan Vialad (or the author publishing under her name), and who remembers them?

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André Goss, aka André Gossiaux, Repassez le suaire. Paris, Fleuve Noir, “Spécial Police” n°58 , 1954.

Illustration Michel Gourdon. Continue reading

ICRH Conference ‘Interdisciplinary Approaches to ‘Setting the Scene’: Your Photos

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(Pictures courtesy of Daniel Finlay and Annika Breinig)

Thanks to all for participating in the ICRH Conference on Representations of Rurality in Crime Fiction and Media Culture. This interdisciplinary conference co-organised by IRCH Senior Research Fellows Dr Dominique Jeannerod  and Dr Linda Price was part of the ICRH’s 2014-2015 Research Theme Creativity in imagined and material worlds. Thanks for attending and to those of you who helped making it such a successful event. Thanks for your great papers and discussions. We really enjoyed having you here and look forward to seeing you again soon.

RUR1 Rur2 Rur3 Rur4 Continue reading

Marriage Noir, illustrated

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In the same way as Film Noir represents the “dark side of the screen”, the noir novel, a 20th century heir to Emile Zola’s naturalism, offers a dark brand of literary realism. Where noir cinema is the nightmare to Hollywood’s dream industry, noir paperbacks can be seen as an inverted mirror to Harlequin romances. Continue reading

A Festival of Crime Fiction Writers at the ICRH, Queen’s University, Belfast

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The conference on Representations of Rurality in Crime Fiction and Media Culture (ICRH, Queen’s University, Belfast, 15-16 June 2015)  hosts acclaimed Crime Fiction authors Andrew Pepper, Anthony Quinn, Brian McGilloway, Gerard Brennan, Leigh Redhead, and Rob Kitchin. Please find here  the full  Programme

Kitchin Continue reading

Crime Fiction in Countries Where the Police Is Reviled

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Kishwar Desai and Dror Mishani in Lyon, 2015. Kishwar Desai and Dror Mishani in Lyon, 2015.

Crime fiction seems to be most popular in the countries where crime rates are low – perhaps because it is easier to read about terrible things happening when the truth around you is not stranger and more horrible than fiction. But what about those countries where the police is treated with suspicion, where there is no tradition of private detectives and where there is little hope of real justice (as opposed to vengeance)?

There was a panel at Quais du Polar in Lyon about this very subject, with authors from Russia, Costa Rica, Israel and India represented. I bought both of these books in Lyon: Liad Shoham was there in 2014, while Kishwar Desai was there this year.

TelAvivSuspectsLiad Shoham: Tel Aviv Suspects

No conventional crime novel, this is a story of guilt and fears, of mistrust, of crossed wires in communication…

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Rurality and rural landscapes in Irish Crime Fiction

 

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Belfast, Monday 15th June, 6: 15  p.m. No Alibis Bookstore,

As part of the conference  on the Rural as a scene in Crime Fiction (conference organised  by the Institute for collaborative Research in the Humanities at Queen’s University, Belfast),  Brian McGilloway & Anthony Quinn will talk about their work in No Alibis Bookstore, in  conversation with author Dr Andrew Pepper. All welcome ! Come and join us !

If you are interested in attending the conference on Interdisciplinary Approaches to ‘Setting the Scene’: Representations of Rurality in Crime Fiction and Media Culture, ICRH, Queen’s University,

Belfast 15-16 June 2015

Please contact :  Dr Dominique Jeannerod  (d.jeannerod@qub.ac.uk)  or  Dr Linda Price (l.price@qub.ac.uk)

Doing justice to the Irish border landscape: An interview with Anthony Quinn

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[Dominique Jeannerod]  Many thanks for accepting to answer some questions, ahead of next week’s Belfast Conference on Representations of the Rural in Crime Fiction.  We are really looking forward to it . You will be in No Alibis on Monday, to talk about your writing, together with Brian McGilloway and Andrew Pepper.  

 To begin with, in which literary tradition would you consider yourself belonging?

[Anthony Quinn] Although I write crime fiction I aspire, perhaps a little grandiosely, to writing within an older Irish tradition, a peasant literature that is about a fugitive, almost magical sense of place and belonging, and the crimes that are committed by dislocated people and societies, the same tradition say as JB Keane’s The Field, or the poetry of Patrick Kavanagh.

Is there something like a rural school within Irish Noir? Continue reading