Re: RARA-AVIS: French hardboiled

From: Etienne Borgers (
Date: 31 Jan 2000

--- Doug Bassett <> wrote:
> Mr. Benz's recent post on the death of Jean-Claude
> Izzo reminded me of a question I've been meaning to
> ask here. Are any of those French Serie Noire books
> available in English translations? There's a
> fascinating chapter on them in Ed Gorman's BIG BOOK
> OF
> NOIR, enough to really whet my appetite, but, sadly,
> like many Americans I do not speak or understand
> another language. If I'm going to read Izzo or any
> of
> the others it'll have to be in translation.

That's the problem with French HB/Noir which is seldom translated into English. And this is going on since years. Do not ask me why... especially considering the quality of some of the best French writers from the past and present.

For the moment, for the contemporary authors, you could find some books by Daniel Pennac(really a good author, but be prepared for surrealist plots, off-beat characters and more...), and by Didier Daeninckx that were translated. From the past: Leo Malet (some of his saga The new Mysteries of Paris, with his French PI Nestor Burma, were translated recently- amongst that series, there are at least 3 or 4 great novels). Leo Malet however HB did not appear in the Serie Noire.

And even so, I'm not sure you'll find these in American publications; they were published most of the time in the UK only.

On my web site, if interested, you will find a part of the article about Serie Noire you refer to, that was not reprinted in the 'Big Book of Noir' and which points toward the latest (97) French authors selected by SN, and some documents.

I very recently discovered a new author of high quality, published by SN- Francois Barcelo (French Canadian) and his novel: "Cadavres" (Corpses), really a great book. Sharp, full of dark humor, a bit surreal and above average by its style of writing. Barcelo published previously in Quebec, but I hope this SN support will give him the necessary boost. But even being Canadian will not make it more easy, I think, for Barcelo accessing the American market with a translation.

I really think it's a loss for the American public not having access to the best of the French writers in HB/Noir. Other voices, often other views and some great authors.

E.Borgers Hard-Boiled Mysteries
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