Frederick Forsyth at Crimefest: Thirty-five Days of the Jackal
The opening hundred or so pages of The Day of the Jackal offer measured, chilling background to fanaticism from two French sides in the Franco-Algerian War. (The Jackal is an assassin hired by right-wing military figures to kill French President Charles de Gaulle, incensed by De Gaulle's grant of Algerian independence after having declared "Vive l'Algerie Francaise!" De Gaulle proclaimed "Long live French Algeria!" then granted the country its independence, and "Vive le Quebec libre!" or "Long live free Quebec!" without, however, wrenching my native province out of Canada--at least not yet. He had a bit of a problem with this liberation thing.)
Now, why not listen to some Franco-Algerian music, read about the real aborted Algerian military coup against De Gaulle, and join me in The Day of the Jackal?
This and the rapidity of the book's composition earned him the good-natured jealousy of Peter Guttridge, who quizzed Forsyth in the first of the festival's six guest-of-honor interviews.
The Day of the Jackal, but I had not read a word of Forsyth's work before today. His interview turned me into a fan, though, and I bought the book. My favorite bit of the interview was probably Forsyth's response to Guttridge's question about whether the world had grown more complicated since the Jackal's Cold War days.
"Very much so," Forsyth replied. "Al-Qaeda is here, there, everywhere. ... It's a weird world. It's a dangerous world. It's a bewildering." (And yes, Forsyth's tendency to speak in threes lends his speech a pleasantly rhythmic effect.) He also, by his own account, has led a fortunate and engaging life, so yes, I'm a Forsyth fan starting today.
© Peter Rozovsky 2012. 2013