Manchette

Foreign Bodies

Demure

With thanks to Donald Nicholson-Smith

Foreign Bodies” is the  title of a promising, pioneering series of international crime fiction that never was. It was planned as a series of French Crime Fiction translated into English and published in America. The project  had been drafted almost two decades ago by the former  member of the Situationist International, Donald Nicholson-Smith, the translator of  Debord’s Society of Spectacle, Vaneigem’s  The Revolution of Everyday life, Lefebvre’s   The Production of space  and other key texts. Nicholson-Smith is also the translator of the  quintessential French Noir author, Jean-Patrick Manchette, whose situationist trajectory mirrored his. It is not only regrettable but also damaging for the understanding of  the international Noir genre in the English speaking world that this series never   saw the light of day. The contemporary surge of French Noir in English translation due to publishers such as Pushkin Vertigo, Gallic Books, or NYRB  might be seen as an opportunity to revisit Nicholson-Smith’s project. Continue reading

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A Conversation with Karim Miské

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(Dominique Jeannerod & Daniel Magennis, 9 June 2015)

French author and documentary filmmaker, Karim Miské recently came to Belfast as part of the Belfast Book Festival, to read and answer questions about his debut novel Arab Jazz (winner of the Grand Prix de Littérature Policière and  the English PEN award). We managed to detain him long enough to put some questions of our own to him. Continue reading

“Books colonize his mind”: Addictive Crime Fiction in Karim Miské’s Arab Jazz

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Most frequent words in the first chapter of Arab Jazz (Viviane Hamy, 2012), click to enlarge

Arab Jazz, Karim Miské’s multi-award winning novel tells the story of an avid reader. Ahmed is a 21st century Don Quixote, who lives in Paris’s multicultural 19th arrondissement and reads modern chivalric romances, i.e. Crime Fiction. He buys books by the kilo, and stores 2.5 tonnes of them in his flat. His local bookshop is the pharmacy where he finds the remedies for his soul. Sure, these remedies contain a dose of poison too. But he needs them, as the horror and the sick imaginations of others allow him to keep the monsters inhabiting his own head at bay. Some of the books are memorable: Ellroy, Tosches, and Manchette. They rank in his consciousness alongside other considerable books, by Baudelaire, Van Gogh, Artaud, and Debord. He equally reads “vast quantities of Anglo-American industrial thrillers, by Connelly, Cornwell, and Cobain; their names are a bit mixed up in his head”. He often has the impression that he reading the same novel, over and over again; which is exactly what he is looking for. He wants to forget about the whole world and immerse himself entirely in a continuous narrative written by others. Until one day a girl’s blood drips down onto his clothes, and real crime re-enters his life.

Karim Miské will read from Arab Jazz at Belfast Book Festival, on Tuesday :

http://whatsonni.com/event/28575-belfast-book-festival-karim-miske-arab-jazz/crescent-arts-centre

A German “Série Noire”

Fatale

The iconic Série Noire, created in Paris in the summer of 1945,  by  surrealist Marcel Duhamel in order to publish American hardboiled authors, celebrates this year its 70th Birthday.  This is an occasion to look at the influence it had abroad, and beyond America, where it helped defining the noir genre. Continue reading