Anglo-Saxon publishers and readers have shown an increasing interest in foreign-language mystery fiction over the last decades. Henning Mankell, Arnaldur Idriodarson, Andrea Camillieri and my fellow-compatriot Fred Vargas have now achieved notability outside their respectives spheres, some of them winning prestigious awards in the process. I can't but rejoice of this, no matter my personal feelings about these authors. Still, they are only the top of the iceberg and a lot of great stuff remains to be uncovered, most particularly a lot of great French stuff. Gallic mystery fiction, despite having followed sometimes paths which I find to be regretable or at least objectionable, has a tradition of excellence that long predates the creator of Commissaire Adamsberg, and certainly deserves to be better known.
A new feature of this blog, "Lost in Translation" will focus on those of my fellow-compatriots who, despite being popular and/or celebrated in their country, have never made it in the Anglosphere. Some had a handful of their books translated but failed to build an audience. Others were initially acclaimed then slipped into obscurity. Still others were too original. Most, sadly, were just never given a chance. Have you ever heard of Frédéric Dard, Michel Cousin, Noël Vindry, Madeleine Coudray, Jean-François Coatmeur, Jacques Decrest, Pierre Siniac, S.A. Steeman or Martin Méroy? No? That's what "Lost Translation" sets to correct. I have no hope that it will move publishers, but it should at the very least arouse some curiosity and, who knows...
The series will be irregular but I'll try to make it as frequent as possible. Don't hesitate to use the comments section to inquire about an author or suggest a name; I'll be happy to oblige as far as my readings and information allow me to.
Don't miss the premiere this Sunday. Our first guest will be René Reouven.
Looking forward to it!
Xavier, great idea! I'm becoming increasingly francophile in mystery fiction. Even nowadays, the French publishing market is much less standardized than the Anglo-Saxon and there are always pleasant surprises. I hope you will also cover some non-French but French-speaking authors (your mention of Belgian S. A. Steeman, a writer I admire since my childhood and an author of some terrific impossible crime novels makes me think you will do so). If I have the time and you don't think it is too specific, maybe I'll even send you some reviews of Portuguese language detective novels!
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