Preparing for Quais du Polar 2016

February 20, 2016 Leave a comment Go to comments

Quais_polar_logoThe festival Quais du polar will be from 1st to 3rd of April in Lyon, France. In French, polar is a generic and affectionate term to call crime fiction. Quais is probably a reference to 36 Quai des Orfèvres where the Parisian police have their headquarters and to Interpol’s headquarters located 200, Quai Charles de Gaulle in Lyon. L’Ecole Nationale Supérieure de Police is also in Lyon. It’s the school where police officers and commissaires are trained. So the city that hosts Quais du polar is also the headquarters of famous police institutions. But Quais also means river banks and the other reason why Quais is included in the name of the festival comes from the geography of Lyon. Indeed, the river Rhône and the river Saône run through Lyon and the city centre is called the Presqu’île (peninsula) as it is between the two rivers. The city is really shaped by its two rivers. So, Quais du polar is an apt name for a festival that celebrates crime fiction in Lyon.

2016 is the 12th season of the festival and I hope the series Quais du Polar will have many seasons. Last year, it attracted 70 000 visitors and, from what I’ve seen, writers were enchanted. My post about the 2014 and 2015 editions are here and here. Quais du polar is a mixed festival: there’s a huge bookstore in the magnificent building of the Chamber of Commerce, where writers come and sign their books, conferences, a whodunit promenade throughout the city and other activities.This year, the festival will show off Francophone crime fiction with writers from France, Québec, Switzerland, Gabon and Togo.

Quais_polarAs last year, I bought a subscription to the festival. It’s not mandatory but it helps accessing to the conférences; it costs 30€ and comes with a free book. The access to everything is free, the festival relies on volunteers. Paying a subscription is also a way to help them. The free book is Tout le monde te haïra by Alexis Aubenque. To be honest, it’s not a book I would have picked myself as it is a thriller and it is set in Alaska. I’m a bit wary of writers who write crime fiction set in another country as theirs. But I’ll give it a try.

The web site has not been updated yet with the detailed program of the festival but the guest writers are already listed. You can have a look here: Invités Quais du Polar. If you do have a look, please let me know who you’d like to meet if you were attending. It’s always nice to have pointers.

Johnson_camp_mortsPeace_1974Meanwhile, I will be reading some writers who will be participating to Quais du Polar. I’m delighted to see that Craig Johnson will be there. He was already present in 2014 but now I’ve started his Longmire series and I hope I’ll be able to talk to him. My billet about the first volume of the series, Little Bird, is here and I will write soon about the second opus, Death Without Company. I’m happy to report that I found it as good as the first one. I love the atmosphere of Durant, Wyoming and Longmire’s personality, colleagues and friends. I will also read 1974 by David Peace, a book that has been on my shelf for a while. #TBR20 is still on and it will make up for the three books I bought for the occasion.

Ferey_ZuluI decided to read Zulu by Caryl Férey. He’s a French writer and the book is set in Cape Town, South Africa. I know, my buying this not exactly consistent with my previous my comment on Alexis Aubenque. I can’t explain why I have a better feeling about Zulu. Or perhaps I’m not so thrilled to read a book set in Alaska because the place reminds me of Sarah Palin, the dreadful Yiddish Policemen’s Union by Michael Chabon, horrifying working conditions on fishing boats described by Iain Levison and oil spills.  Zulu got multiple prizes, so I’m curious. It sounds like a compelling story with incursions into local politics and sociology. Crime fiction is a great medium for that. It is available in English, if anyone’s interested.

Levison_toutI also purchased Ils savent tout de vous by Iain Levison. I’ve already read his Working Stiff’s Manifesto. I’ve heard his interview on France Inter and his last book sounded interesting. Wanna know the funny thing about it? It’s been written in English but you can only find it in French because it’s only been published in France. The guy’s publisher is French and Levison refuses to publish his book in the US. So, here I am, perfectly able to read the original but forced to read it in translation. I wish it were published in parallel texts or one after the other in an omnibus edition.

Niel_hamacsThe last one is Les Hamacs de carton by French author Colin Niel. He’s an engineer specialized in environmental issues and he has lived several years in French Guiana. He created a series set in this overseas department with a main character named Capitaine Anato. Les Hamacs de carton is the first volume of the series. *sheepish* French Guiana only means three things to me: Amazonia, Christiane Taubira and the penal colony where Dreyfus and Henri Charrière (Papillon) were sent. I’m curious to learn more about the place.

I hope I’ll have time to read these books before the festival. If you’re interested in Quais du Polar, you can come to Lyon for the weekend. The city is beautiful and the atmosphere during the festival is special. If you’d like to come but can’t, you can follow Quais du polar on Twitter : @QuaisPolar or on Facebook.


  1. February 21, 2016 at 12:30 am

    I read Zulu, liked it but it is brutal. Glad to see you are continuing to enjoy the Longmire series. I haven’t read any yet but I know how rewarding it is to discover a good series.


    • February 21, 2016 at 8:32 am

      So Zulu is violent. To be honest, I didn’t expect hearts & flowers with a book whose main character is a police officer in Cape Town. Still, you reading so much crime fiction and saying it’s brutal means I’d better brace myself. .
      I don’t think the Longmire series would be your thing but I enjoy it very much

      Liked by 1 person

      • February 21, 2016 at 5:37 pm

        Yes, brutal. I also have Peace on my shelf yet to read.


  2. Pat
    February 21, 2016 at 12:42 am

    Hi Emma, I read Zulu a while back and then saw the film, it was all a bit violent for me, I personally took a longer lasting memory from Mapuche, the first of Férey’s book I read, I’ll be interested on your view on Zuli


    • February 21, 2016 at 8:34 am


      Another warning about the violence in Zulu. OK. Now I know I should expect difficult scenes.
      I didn’t know it’s been made into a film. Thanks for the info.


  3. February 21, 2016 at 6:58 am

    wow formidable, amuse-toi bien, que du beu monde! Je viens récemment de découvrir l’écriture d’Horowitz, superbe!


    • February 21, 2016 at 8:28 am

      Marrant de constater que lire un billet sur un événement en France te fait repasser au Français bien que le billet soit en anglais.
      Le switch d’une langue à l’autre ne cessera jamais de m’épater. Je travaille beaucoup en anglais, je lis en anglais, je blogue en anglais: parfois certains mots me viennent en anglais avant le français.


      • February 21, 2016 at 11:30 pm

        oui, c’est incroyable comme notre esprit fonctionne pour ce qui est des langues. Maintenant que je vais bientôt atteindre un demi-siècle, parfois quand je repense à un livre que j’ai lu il y a longtemps, je ne sais plus dans quelle langue je l’ai lu! J’ai commencé à rêver en anglais quand j’étais très jeune, bien que vivant en France et dans une fanille française, donc l’amalgame s’est fait très tôt en moi

        Liked by 1 person

  4. February 21, 2016 at 7:01 am

    hmm, I must be tired, I didn’t even realize your post was in English!! And I managed a typo, beu for beau, sorry. As for Horowitz, he was allowed to write Sherlock Holmes books, and he is superb at it!


  5. February 21, 2016 at 8:38 am

    It’s a date – can’t wait to see you there again! And thanks for reminding me to sign up for the gang as well!


    • February 21, 2016 at 8:43 am

      It’s definitely a date. I’m looking forward to seeing you again too. We’ll work out the details later.

      I can’t wait to see the list of conférences. Who do you want to see and talk to?


      • February 21, 2016 at 8:44 am

        Knowing me, I will probably double or triple book myself and then just have to cut back on what is physically possible.


        • February 21, 2016 at 8:53 am

          I’d like to visit the police academy with my daughter. They usually do guided tours but I never managed to get a ticket.


          • February 22, 2016 at 12:25 am

            You could always get arrested.


            • February 22, 2016 at 9:50 pm

              For book addiction?


              • February 22, 2016 at 10:09 pm

                Why limit yourself? Be creative


  6. February 21, 2016 at 10:32 am

    I’ll be interested in your thoughts on 1974, Emma. I read it quite some time ago, so my memories of it a little fuzzy now, but I recall it being a tough read (tough as in brutal subject matter). Peace is an excellent writer, so I’m sure his session will be one of the highlights.


    • February 21, 2016 at 5:27 pm

      I expect it to be rather tough. I hope I won’t miss references that are common knowledge for a British reader since it’s a real case.


  7. Sarah
    February 21, 2016 at 11:17 pm

    Thanks for writing above. The writers I’m hoping to meet are Deon Myers and Jo Nesbo. Myers writes ‘big novels’ about South Africa, and he makes it sound very open-minded and exciting … in a big-country kind of way: anyway, he’s a great writer.


    • February 22, 2016 at 9:51 pm

      Thanks for dropping by and for commenting.
      Which Deon Myers would you recommend?


  8. February 23, 2016 at 9:11 pm

    I’d love to attend this – sounds like a terrific weekend. Heck, I’d love just to visit Lyon. *sigh* One day…

    I too read Zulu. I did not like it, but you should completely ignore my opinion since I generally do not like things of this nature. “Brutal” is putting it lightly.

    Curiously, I first heard of Craig Johnson thanks to an article in Les Inrocks about Gallmeister, the French editeur responsible for translating and publishing so many American writers barely known in the U.S. But I suppose he’s at least marginally known here, since there’s now a television series based on the Longmire books.


    • February 23, 2016 at 10:17 pm

      I really hope you’ll visit Lyon one of these days. I’ll be happy to show you the city.

      OK. Now I’m getting worried about reading Zulu

      If the article you read about Gallmeister was published last month, then I’m pretty sure you’ve heard of Gallmeister before, on this blog. I’m a huge fan. They have a gift for digging out unusual and insanely good American writers.
      See what Jake Hinkson, one of Gallmeister’s finds, thinks of his book tour in France :
      I’ve heard that from writers in Lyon last year: they were amazed at the waiting lines in front of them.


      • February 24, 2016 at 9:56 pm

        Yes, the Gallmeister article was last month. I went through their whole catalog and was stunned by how few of the names I recognized. But I always find American writers in French who are completely new to me.

        Thanks for that link. I don’t know Hinkson at all, but what he says resonates, and it’s true that it often takes France for American writers and artists to get the recognition they deserve. That’s why we all need France. That’s why you should all take good care of it and listen to Christiane Taubira and keep being French. Besides, there’s going to be a tsunami of us coming there if Donald Trump gets elected.


        • February 25, 2016 at 9:58 pm

          They really have a great catalogue. I think I’m going to create a Gallmeister category.

          You’re welcome to “tsunamise” us any time. Why the Republican party thinks they’re playing a trump with this Donald is beyond me. Let’s hope that in 2017, we won’t have to watch who’s winning the vulgarity contest between Donald and Marine.

          About “being French”. Don’t worry, the new generation seems promising: my kids are at my parents’ for the holidays. When I called today they were playing Monopoly with my dad, who had become filthy rich in the game. My son said jokingly: “Grandpa’s too rich. We’re going to start a revolution”. 🙂

          Liked by 1 person

    • February 23, 2016 at 11:33 pm

      I remember in particular a method of murdering someone.


  1. March 9, 2016 at 10:26 pm
  2. April 3, 2016 at 10:56 pm
  3. May 6, 2016 at 6:42 pm

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