Wednesday, October 07, 2009

Prize for Priest

With a hat tip to Crime Scene NI, Crimficreader of It's a Crime ... and others comes news that Ken Bruen has won the Grand Prix de la Littérature Policière 2009 for La main droite du diable, the French translation of his novel Priest. The choice is worthy; last year I called Priest "Best crime novel of its year and any year?"

Two Grands Prix are awarded each year, one to the best crime novel, and one to the best international crime novel in France. They've been awarded since 1948, which suggests the French got onto this international crime fiction thing before many of the the rest of us.

Plenty of big names and talented authors have won the international prize, including one to a superb crime writer for a book that I thought his weakest. Shows what I know.

© Peter Rozovsky 2009

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Blogger Uriah Robinson said...

Priest was brilliant. Voices was good but The Draining Lake was better. Good luck at Boucheron.

Didn't you ask Arnaldur, what the capital of Iceland was? .........

October 07, 2009  
Blogger adrian mckinty said...

Priest was great! Though I dont have the expertise to judge the translation. I'm sure its pretty good too. They pick good uns those people. Thats how I first came to hear about David Peace.

October 07, 2009  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

To which he doubtless would have replied, "Já, I think at this moment the capital of Iceland is nothing."

"Priest" was emotionally draining, and I very much liked Bruen's handling of some explosive issues in an unexpectedmanner.

I also liked Silence of the Grave and Arctic Chill better than Voices, but I recommend all of them and Jar City, too.

I pronounced Sigurðardóttir out loud for the first time last night. There's no turning back now.

October 07, 2009  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

Adrian, writing about priests and abused kids is probably not that hard a choice for a crime writer to make these days. Why doesn't Priest seem like exploitation?Because the book has no kids in it. Because the perpetrator is already dead. It has to be a lot harder to write about the effects of a crime than about the deed itself, and Bruen does it brilliantly. Not many authors could summon up hatred, sympathy and pity toward a character at the same time the way he does with the nun.

The Grand Prix people have made some good choices on the international side. Oddly, after the first year's award to Léo Malet, the domestic French prize has gone to authors not generally known outside France, or at least not known to me.

October 07, 2009  
Anonymous Karin M said...

Priest wasn't my favourite Bruen, but I'm pleased Ken's won such a great prize. Just wanted to mention that without Pierre Bondil, the book that won the prize would not exist. Literary translators deserve recognition for their work, all the more so when it wins awards. I know you usually pay a lot of attention to translation per se, and to translators, Peter.

Have a good time in Indianapolis.

October 14, 2009  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

Thanks, Karin. I had planned to ask Robert Pepin about the attitude toward translated crime fiction in France. On the one hand, the French have been recognizing translated crime fiction at least since 1948 -- well before the English and the Americans. On the other, the Grand Prix de la Littérature Policière does not seem to recognize translators the way, say, the Crime Writers' Association's International Dagger does in the UK. Now I can mention Pierre Bondil's name when I ask the question.

And I am having a good time so far, thanks.

October 15, 2009  
Blogger The Celtic Kagemusha said...

Peter, I recall your initial (rave) assessment of Declan Hughes' 'City of Lost Girls', and I'm wondering have you since re-assessed this one downwards, also, and if so, to what extent.

Also you might recall my disappointment with my only Bruen to date, 'The Guards': my problem(s) with it was that, although I liked the essence of his approach, I thought there was far too much 'pre-amble', and just not enough plot, and that it didn't really get going until his stint in the Mental Hospital
although I loved the ending.
So I'm looking for your recommendation for the Bruen that, if I don't 'get it', I'll never get it.

Also, looking for yours, and/or Adrian's, if he gets to read this, recommendation for 'capo di tutti capi' of Adrian McKinty novels, as my McKinty 'entrée'.


hope this post is 'multi-lingual' enough for the topic

July 24, 2010  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

The only reassessment, if you can call it that, is that in the light of day, I realize that I have not read nearly enough to answer the question my posts' title posed: "Has Declan Hughes written the greatest P.I. novel ever?" But it's a hell of a book. I should have more to say about it in the next few days, so watch this space.

I started but aside "The Guards" years ago but have since read several of the Jack Taylor novels, of which I especially liked "The Killing of the Tinkers" and "Priest." I'd recommend the latter as the Jack Taylor novel. It's longer than the others, and I get the feeling that Bruen made more of an effort to tell a story. Combine that with the searing emotional power he's capable of, and you've got quite a package. But I would never call any book a "must read" if one wants to "get it." I'm temperamentally allergic to both expressions.

Bruen's London-based Brant novels and, especially, the three novels he has co-written with Jason Starr are lighter in tone, or at least more purely fun, than the Jack Taylor books.

The ne plus ultra or, if you prefer, the sine qua non for McKinty are the Michael Forsythe novels: Dead I Well May Be, The Dead Yard and The Bloomsday Dead. I'd read them in that order, or at least the first two before the third.

July 24, 2010  
Blogger The Celtic Kagemusha said...

Thanks: recommendations duly noted

But what I mean by 'get' in this case is not so much 'appreciate' as whether Bruen's novels could ever appeal to me, given the type of author/novel/style that I tend to prefer

July 24, 2010  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

Well, my caution still holds. Even if you liked village mysteries that depict nothing more violent than the occasional startled cat, there's always a chance that something in a novel by Bruen or Derek Raymond or David Goodis could strike a chord.

July 24, 2010  

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