Matt Rees' Palestine film noir, plus a question on the universality of crime stories
That claim about detective fiction is one to which Rees has given some thought. I told him I'd failed to find any crime fiction on a trip to Tunisia, to which Rees replied:
"Interesting you mention the lack of crime fiction in the Arab world. There are two separate issues: One is that the book market is very small; second, the genre is virtually unknown to Arab literature. My first novel was reviewed in Al-Ayyam, a Ramallah newspaper, a few months ago, and the review was essentially an introduction to detective novels (`So the detective must discover who is really responsible for the crime ...')And that leads to a difficult but endlessly interesting question: The detective story, essentially an Anglo-French-American creation, has taken up residence in many other cultures and countries. What makes it so adaptable? What adjustments have authors made when introducing it into new countries? And could crime stories potentially find a home in any country?
"My theory is that the Arab world is very prone to conspiracy theories, but the uncovering of the truth is generally not encouraged by governments or religious establishments – in political terms. Though the detective novel grows out of situations of corruption (Hammett's San Francisco or Chandler's Santa Monica), it also depends on a conception that when right is uncovered it can also be carried through. Unfortunately the Arab world suffers from a lack of that freedom."
The video is a noirish trip, with terrific music and perhaps a bit more whimsy than the novel it promotes. And you'll never guess how it ends.
© Peter Rozovsky 2008
Matt Beynon Rees