An article in English on the Goethe-Institut Web site calls Germany a Mystery Story Paradise in the Middle of Europe
. The article is a year old, but, assuming it remains relatively current, it has much of interest to say about German readers' tastes and about the crime fiction available to them. A few highlights:
1) Every year 600 to 800 mystery stories are published in Germany, about two-thirds in translation. Of approximately 800 mystery stories that appeared in 2005, just under 200 were imports from Europe. An estimated 200 more come from the United States and Canada, and a small remainder from Asia, Africa, Australia and Oceania. (Since publication of the article, The Broken Shore
, by the superb Australian Peter Temple
, has won an award in its German translation as Kalter August
. Read more in German about Temple at that wide ranging German crime-fiction site Krimi-Couch
2) The most influential present-day British author is Ian Rankin
3) Germans have been reading crime fiction from the Nordic countries since the nineteenth century. The list of Nordic writers available in German includes some of the same authors availble in English, and some whose work I wish were available in English, including Finland's Harri Nykänen. (Quite apart from the article, I know that more than ten of Håkan Nesser
's books are have been published in German translation, versus the two available in English. No wonder Nesser calls Germany "the door-opener to the rest of Europe.
4) At least in 2006, Italian crime fiction was "(w)idely publicised, but unfortunately not very successful." The article cites Carlo Lucarelli
, Andrea Camilleri
and a writer I don't know: Giuseppe Genna.
5) Among French crime authors who have made a splash in Germany are Jean-Claude Izzo
, Fred Vargas, and, again, one I don't know: "the mystic-adventurer Jean-Christophe Grangé."
6) Crime fiction is just beginning to stir in the countries of the former Soviet bloc: "In their homeland, Polina Daschkowa, Darja Donzowa, Alebxandra Marinina, Tatjana Ustinowa and Viktoria Platowa have enjoyed vast million editions. Their novels are entertaining, not particularly difficult, and in part written with an eye to a mass public which wants to experience history through children of the Tsar and heroes in the shape of nouveau riche capitalists. Often brilliantly written, fabulous froth of the day from a society that is seeking itself."P.S.
I forgot to add that the article shows special appreciation for my man Bill James: "Alas, only confirmed mystery story fans know the authors of the “Brit Noir” – Charles Lewis, Derek Raymond, Bill James
, and Helen Zahavi ..."© Peter Rozovsky 2007
Labels: crime fiction in translation, Germany, reference