Quais du polar 2014: welcome to crime fiction

quais-du-polar-2014In 2014, Quais du polar celebrates its 10th anniversary. It’s a festival set in Lyon and dedicated to crime fiction in books and films. (See the meaning of the name here) The whole city is about crime fiction during three days. There are conferences, exhibits, films, a great book fair and a walk turned into an investigation in the Vieux Lyon. James Ellroy was there for a conference and he was the star of the festival. I didn’t have time to participate in anything but go to the book fair. Compared to other salons, publishers don’t have stalls there, only independent book stores do. It is reserved to independent book stores from Lyon. If you look up book stores in Lyon in the yellow page, there are 95 results. They some are specialised in SF or comics, children lit, scientific books… Only a few of them participate to Quais du polar. Each stand corresponds to one book shop and the writers present at the festival are dispatched among them. I guess the book shops made good money during the weekend, there was a lot of people there. The atmosphere was like a swarm of crime fiction readers buzzing around stands, waiting to meet writers and chatting with book sellers. It’s always nice to be among book enthusiasts.

KotzwinkleTime to introduce you to a new French word: libraire. A libraire is a bookseller, a person who works in a book shop. But when I see bookseller I see vendeur de livres and not libraire because I’m under the impression that the selling part of the word is more important than the book part. When I hear libraire, I think of someone who loves books, reading books, being around books, talking about books and recommending books to others. The cash part of the story is only the ending, not the purpose. Books are not cans of green peas. A libraire is not a book seller. Libraire is a noble word that implies that the person in front of you is knowledgeable about books and will be all lit up if you share your reading with them. One of those owns the book store Au Bonheur des Ogres.  I was happy to chat with him again as last year he had recommended The Blonde and Nager sans se mouiller. I told him how the copy of Nager sans se mouiller I purchased from him in 2013 is now sitting on a shelf in Beirut thanks to the magic of book blogging and that I had LOVED The Blonde. He’s a true crime fiction aficionado, he oozes crime fiction enthusiasm, it’s incredible. You could spend hours talking to him about books. This year, he recommended The Midnight Examiner by William Kotzwinkle, La place du mort by Pascal Garnier and Le tri sélectif des ordures et autres cons by Sébastien Gendron. (Turns out I already had the last one). We’ll see how it goes this year.


Lauren Beukes was also there, she’s very friendly. I now have a signed copy of her Zoo City. It was on my wish list after reading Max’s review. I managed to snatch a signed copy of The Cold Dish by Craig Johnson for my in-law. I haven’t read him –yet— but in France, he’s published by Gallmeister. So I suppose he’s good. Even without his cowboy hat and plaid shirt, you’d know he’s American. He’s very friendly too.


I said earlier that publishers don’t have stalls at the book fair. They are involved in the festival, though. I really liked the ads for the publisher Points. Tu ne tueras Points… mais tu liras des polars. Literally Thou shall not kill but thou shall read crime fiction. There’s a pun on Points / point which is an old version of the negative form pas.


I had a lot of fun that afternoon and I hope I’ll have more time to go to conferences and exhibits next year.


  1. April 13, 2014 at 4:37 pm

    Loved your post, Emma! I remember reading about this event last year on your blog. Nice to know that you met your favourite bookseller there and he gave you new recommendations. I love the word ‘libraire’. That is how I imagine a bookshop owner or a bookseller would be. Thanks for telling us about it. I loved that motto – “Thou shall not kill but thou shall read crime fiction” – so cool 🙂


    • April 13, 2014 at 5:58 pm

      Libraire is a pretty word. Ecrivain is another one. I think its meaning is narrower than the word writer. In écrivain, you hear “writing literature” and nothing else.

      It’s a great slogan, isn’t it? I like the drawing too. (a Poing (fist) is pronounced the same way as point)


  2. April 13, 2014 at 4:38 pm

    Lucky you to have such an event close.
    I have Zoo City here along with several Garniers yet to read. Crime fiction is a vast umbrella, so finding someone who recommends books you subsequently enjoy is not easy. The Kotzwinkle sounds really good.


    • April 13, 2014 at 6:01 pm

      I kept thinking how much you’d enjoy to be there, despite the crowd. They even drew up white footsteps like on crime scenes on the pavement leading to the building where the book fair was set. You’d love the film program too.

      Have you read Kotzwinkle? The libraire said that if I loved The Blonde, I’d love this one too.


      • April 13, 2014 at 7:44 pm

        No I haven’t read the Kotzwinkle, but I bought it since reading your post.


        • April 13, 2014 at 7:58 pm

          That was fast.
          And that’s a first: an American crime fiction writer that you don’t know.


          • April 13, 2014 at 9:54 pm

            You now how it is; sometimes you don’t see things right under your nose. I’d heard of his book “swimmer in the secret sea,” but not the name of the author.


            • April 13, 2014 at 10:14 pm

              That’s like Pascal Garnier for me. Never heard of him before seeing him everywhere on the Anglophone bloggosphere.


  3. April 14, 2014 at 8:30 am

    I was actually tempted to go this year but I san out of time.
    It sounds like something I’d really like.


    • April 14, 2014 at 7:45 pm

      If you ever come here, I hope you’ll tell so we can have a drink or a coffee together.
      You’d like that festival, I’m sure.


  4. April 16, 2014 at 12:54 pm

    Ah, I remember when this festival happened last year, so it’s good to hear about the latest one (although I did have to click to remind myself about “Polar” – my memory is terrible!).

    Like Vishy, I love the word “libraire.” I think one of the reasons a lot of bookshops in the UK are in trouble is because they’re focusing on being vendeurs de livres, and nobody can sell books more cheaply or efficiently than Amazon. But a libraire is something unique, and the shops that are surviving and even thriving are the ones that have focused on being knowledgeable and passionate about books, and sharing that passion with their customers – on being libraires, in other words. Thanks for introducing me to this word, Emma – got me thinking 🙂


    • April 16, 2014 at 9:24 pm

      Polar covers a lot of genre in crime fiction, it’s quite handy for people who are literary-genre blind like me. One big box, and hop, everything fits in.

      There’s no word for libraire in English, is there? Libraires and bookshops are in trouble in France too, even if the law on book prices protects them. According to the newsletter by Quai du Polar, they sold 25 000 books during the festival. I’m glad it worked well, it’s good for them and for us readers.

      I should write a little dictionary of the French words I use in my blogging in English.


      • April 17, 2014 at 1:40 pm

        No, I can’t think of an English equivalent. I wonder if the bookselling industry would be in better shape if there were 🙂


        • April 17, 2014 at 8:58 pm

          Who knows? We can always speculate


  1. April 27, 2014 at 6:38 am
  2. June 23, 2014 at 10:36 pm
  3. February 23, 2015 at 12:03 am
  4. February 20, 2016 at 11:21 pm

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