Tuesday, August 09, 2005

What's Here

Being a prolific reader of international crime fiction (noir, detective, roman policier, whatever you'd like to call it) I've been frustrated by the lack of opportunity to talk about what I'm reading: hence this blog. I'll be discussing current and classic detective fiction, mostly from outside the U.S., in English translation, most of which is available either through U.S. sources (such as amazon.com) or international sources (such as amazon.co.uk), as well as through the used and antiquarian book networks (searchable by bookfinder.com and others). If people want to know where I found a particular book, just let me know and I'll reveal my sources.

What I'll be talking about is books that rise above the formula, books that reveal something about their setting, books that (like the best crime fiction) reveal something about us and our times. Why international noir? Because one of the best ways to get a glimpse of another culture is through the lens of crime fiction, the literature of the streets and dark alleys and underclass. What will not be here? Thrillers about the assassination of heads of state, mysteries about the rich and famous. The most rewarding crime fiction is about us, about life in the streets—an exploration of what's happening in that encounter you glimpse while driving by, two guys with their hands braced against a car while one cop pats them down and another searches the car's trunk. In other words, the descendants of Maj Sjöwall and Per Wahlöö's Martin Beck novels (as one example of what I'm talking about) and not the latest crime-roman-á-clef about the President, or the capo-di-tutti-capi, or the head of a multinational corporation (though all of those folks may appear in the background or even the foreground of the novels discussed here). And, when possible, I'll also mention international noir films that you may (or may not) have the chance to see in the theaters, on TV, or on video.

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