Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Politics and new money in France

I read Dominique Manotti's Affairs of State again this week, and I'll begin this post with the continuation of a passage I quoted in June from the novel's afterword.

The passage called the 1980s in France "a time when entrepreneurs and financiers became the new heroes of modern times."

The immediately succeeding sentence tells us that
“The Socialists, who came to power with Mitterand when he became President of the Republic in 1981 – having been sidelined over a period of decades – assumed and practiced their new religion with the zeal of neophytes."
And that ought to demonstrate that a crime writer can be political without being partisan and remain amusing at the same time.

© Peter Rozovsky 2012

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18 Comments:

Blogger Cary Watson said...

I don't think there's any crime writer around right now who can combine the political and the criminal the way she does. And, as you mention, she also manages to be amusing and exciting. I'm just annoyed that not all of her titles are currently available in English. I wrote a piece on her at my blog back in July:

http://www.jettisoncocoon.com/2011/07/tale-of-two-dominiques.html

February 15, 2012  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

Thanks for the link. Apparently one her novels has been due in English translation for some time, but I don't know where it stands now.

I read French, but I'm not confident enough to take on a novel that I have not previously read in English.

February 15, 2012  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

Cary: I just sent you e-mail about Manotti. What do you think of Jean-Patrick Manchette?

February 15, 2012  
Blogger Cary Watson said...

No, I've never heard of him. I'll have to hunt him down. Another French crime writer I'm interested in reading is Franck Thilliez. He's written a lot, and a few are supposed to come out in translation this year. He wrote the novel and co-wrote the script for a great French crime movie called Melody's Smile or Chamber of Death depending on where it was released. I have a review of it here:

http://www.jettisoncocoon.com/2011/08/film-review-chamber-of-death-2007.html

February 15, 2012  
Blogger Tales from the Birch Wood. said...

I think you might find this link interesting:

"http://quod.lib.umich.edu/m/mqr/act2080.0047.233?rgn=main;view=fulltext"

It would be interesting to know why so many authors are not translated into English.

Perhaps the ones you mention have a small readership outside France?

February 15, 2012  
Blogger Fred said...

Why so few authors translated into English?

I think it's money. Publishers might be afraid to take on the added expense of a translation and then have it fail to sell enough to at least break even. I think publishers wait to see if the work sells well in a wider foreign market before taking on the cost of a translation.

February 15, 2012  
Blogger Tales from the Birch Wood. said...

Certainly, commerce rules the publishing world. However, there is also the possibility that the French "polar noir", while being very popular with readers in France does not manage to grab the imagination elsewhere.

France continues to be associated with romance, charm and "joie de vivre" despite all the evidence of everyday coarseness that most visitors encounter when they visit these days.

The corruption under Mitterand was extraordinary and has been very thoroughly documented.

February 15, 2012  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

Cary, I've always associated Manchette and Manotti. Here's one of several posts I've made about Manchette.

Another politically oriented French crime writer I want to read is Didier Daeninckx.

February 15, 2012  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

Thanks, Tales. That looks like an article of great interest. Whenever I think of French writing by writers from other than France (or Quebec), I think of Yasmina Khadra's explanation for why he writes in French rather than Arabic. In Algeria, he explained, his French teacher encouraged his ambition to write, while his Arabic teacher belittled it.

Manotti must have a following in England; one of her novels won the International Dagger from the Crime Writers' Association in the UK. Just three of Manchette's novels have been translated into English, one of them very recently. I don't know enough about the rest of his output to be able to guess why.

February 15, 2012  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

Fred, you may be right, at least with respect to English-language publishers. I saw a display of all three of Stieg Larsson's novel in French translation in a Montreal bookshop before the second book had been published in English. And this photograph I took of of a bookstore window display in Paris suggest that French publishers are more open to translated crime fiction than their American and British counterparts.

February 15, 2012  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

Tales, I've experienced more of the charm than i have of everyday coarseness on my several visits to France. I can't imagine the corruption of the Mitterand years being documented in a more readable form than in Affairs of State. Manotti's afterword mentions the contemporary Iran-Contra scandal in the U.S. But I find it hard to imagine an American counterpart to Manotti's novels.

February 15, 2012  
Blogger Fred said...

Peter,

I'm finding more and more difficult to order books that aren't published in the US but don't require translation. Distributors seem to be more reluctant now than in the past to order books from other countries. I don't know what the problem is.

Thank the powers that be for the Internet and sites such as abebooks.com and others.

February 16, 2012  
Anonymous I.J.Parker said...

Didn't somebody say the author is male?

As for translation costs: these would be the same whether translating to English or from English. I have a notion that Europeans are far more likely to translate foreign works than Americans are.

And about the political comments: I dislike authors' agendas. On the other hand, I find them quite acceptable when voiced by characters. I like my crime novels to stick to the subject.

February 16, 2012  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

Fred, I'd add the Book Depository to that list. And the rise of e-books may not help much.

I hadn't realized that distributors were reluctant to order books from outside the U.S. Just one more benefit of our globalized world.

February 16, 2012  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

I.J., I don't know if anyone said Dominique Manotti is male, but she's not.

I share your notion that Europeans are likelier than Americans to translate foreign works, and for the familiar reasons: smaller countries, packed more closely together, speaking different languages, and so on.

I'd say Manotti has a point of view rather than an agenda and, that while it's certainly political, it's nonpartisan. Her brief afterword to Affairs of State is something like Stephen Sartarelli's footnotes to Andrea Camilleri's Montalbano novels: it explains unfamiliar terms and provides brief historical context. And I know you like the Camilleri books. In Manotti, money, politics, and power are the subjects.

February 16, 2012  
Anonymous I.J.Parker said...

Ah. Different author. Names can get confusing in France. If it's an afterword, more power to her.
And I really like Camilleri. The footnotes aren't my favorite part. I love the characters and the local color.

(What's with the new "robot" test? I can't read half of the words. Go back to the other ones. They seemed like words that should exist)

February 16, 2012  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

I've just run into that new 'bot test for the first time on a Blogger blog, though I've seen it on blog that have other hosts. I always manage to read the words on the first or second try, and you obviously perservered. We humans are marvelously adaptable.

February 16, 2012  
Blogger Tales from the Birch Wood. said...

The title including "new money" is amusing. Either one has money... or not...

"http://www.plon.fr/ficheLivre.php?livre=9782259184809"

February 17, 2012  

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