Re: RARA-AVIS: French Hard Boiled

From: Etienne Borgers (
Date: 04 Nov 2001

There were a few discussions on R-A about prominent HB French writers. You could probably find them back in the web archives of R-A by its search facilities.

I list some of them hereunder not knowing what is the present state of published translations (but do not forget UK editions in your research):

Leo Malet- one of the founders of French HB novel, especially those with his French PI Nestor Burma, preferably from his series 'The New Mysteries of Paris'- some were translated- the best one: Mist on Tolbiac Bridge.

Patrick Manchette: the best French modern writer (from the 70's onward)-

Jose Giovanni: creator of some of the best characters, mostly French mobsters or underworld people - a lot of his novels were adapted for cinema into brilliant French Noir films. I do not think he is available in English for the time being (?)

Daniel Pennac: one of the very good contemporary writers- some of his novels were translated, under which "La f饠carabine" (sorry, I did not find back the English title) one of his bests. Dark, surrealistic and full of black humor.

Didier Daenninckx: a good writer but overvalued
(IMHO)- uses of a lot of political French problems as backgrounds for his novels

Others already cited Izzo, and I agree to say that only his first one "Total Kh鯰s" is really HB , close to masterpiece. I do not think it's translated.

To answer a previous message: No, Maigret is definitely not HB… and only very marginally Noir (grey in fact, as already discussed a few monthe ago) The real Noir literature of Georges Simenon is to be found in his "tough novels" as he qualified them starting with 'Stains on the Snow', a masterpiece.

There are a lot more top French HB/Noir writers since the fifties, never translated in English and totally unknown outside Europe. I already expressed my view on this in RA , believing that the American reader is denied to access one of the more vivid and original branch of the modern Noir literature by the indifference of the publishers. In fact HB/Noir flourished in several countries, besides the UK, with local ingredients and different approaches (starting with France) and this is the best proof of its universalism…and also that it overrode the simple status of regional literature (status that a some contemporary comments still try to prove!).

E.Borgers Hard-Boiled Mysteries

--- Stewart Wilson <> wrote:
> I want recommendations for French HB, in
> non-translated
> editions, if possible, still in print.
> Looking through the archives, I could only find
> mention
> in the context of translations and slang usage, but
> I am
> really looking for personal recommendations.
> What's good? Any suggestions?
> Thanks!
> --Stewart

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