Home > Crime Fiction, Noir, Personal Posts, Polar > Quais du Polar 2016: Three days to celebrate crime fiction in Lyon

Quais du Polar 2016: Three days to celebrate crime fiction in Lyon

That’s it, my three days at Quais du Polar are over. I had the pleasure to spend most of it with Marina Sofia and we had a great time wandering in the giant book store settled in the chamber of commerce and attenting conferences. I’m going to miss her next year.


There were 120 writers invited, around 50 panel debates, exhibits in museums, 10 independant bookstores, a treasure hunt in the city, a murder party and lots of other activities around crime fiction and police investigations. Sessions were at the chamber of commerce, in a nearby church, in the city hall, at the opera, at the theatre. Lots of places were involved to welcome the visitors. Here is a picture about Lyon turning into crime fiction city:


DSC_2310I went to visit the police academy in the outskirts of Lyon. This is where the commissaires are trained. After a presentation of the school and a moment in the in-house museum, members of the CSI team gave us a demonstration of how they gather clues on a crime scene. There was a mock appartment with a murder in the kitchen and we were above the appartment, on a footbridge that allowed us to see what was happening below. One police officer was performing the tasks of collecting clues and securing the crime scene while another was with us explaining what his colleague was doing. It was fascinating to see how they proceed on location, to hear about the precautions and the tools they use. It was a friendly visit and we had the opportunity to ask questions and chat with a future commissaire.

Part of the fun is to attend conferenced. I went to several sessions in different locations. The atmosphere was friendly with nice banter between the writers. One was about the place of femme fatale in crime fiction. Another one was the translation contest I wrote about.

I went to hear Jo Nesbø, Arnaldur Indridason, Oliver Norek, Sara Gran, Deon Meyer and Craig Johnson talk about their recurring characters. Each explained how they came with this character, how they stayed with them. Olivier Norek is a former police officer turner writer and he explained that his character and stories are based on his experience. Deon Meyer seemed impressed to be on stage with someone who had the actual experience of what he wrote about. We were in a chapel in the city centre, transformed into crime fiction conference room.


I heard three writers from Québec talk about French- Canadian crime fiction, their love for the French language and the difficulties they have to get published in France. Can you believe that French publishers ask them to wipe away the Quebec vibe from their style? I know they use different words and expressions in Québec and I sure don’t want a character from Québec to speak like a Parisian. I expect them to speak differently and that’s part of the charm.

Last but not least, I attended a panel debate with Olivier Truc, Colin Niel, Naïra Nahapétian, Parker Bilal and Caryl Férey who all write crime fiction in specific places. Truc’s hero is in Lapland, Niel’s capitaine is in French Guiana, Nahapétian writes books set in Iran, Parker Bilal intends to picture Egypt from 1998 to 2011 and Caryl Férey wrote books set in South Africa, New Zealand or Argentina. It was fascinating to hear how they gather relevant information for their books. For all, it’s a mix of personal experience and research. Caryl Férey joked about reading obscure thesis to gather knowledge and material about the country of his next book. We were in the Grand Salon at the city hall, where there is more gold on the walls and ceiling than in an Italian roccoco church.


And of course, the festival was an opportunity to chat with writers, ask questions and get books signed. My TBR increased this weekend. Here are my new acquisitions:


I trust the publisher Gallmeister, they never disappoint: if they picked Jon Bassoff, then it’s a good book. Jacques Côté is from Québec, so I’m interested in discovering Montréal from a non-touristy angle. Sara Gran spoke so well about her character, Claire DeWitt, that I’m looking forward to meeting this unusual female PI. I wanted to read another volume of Craig Johnson’s series and he’s very friendly with readers and fellow writers.


I’m curious about Jax Miller’s book and she was also very open to discussion with readers. She seems to have created a kickass female character and I am intrigued. I picked a book by Naïra Nahapétian. She’s from the Armenian community in Iran but has lived in France since she was 10. Her books are set in Iran and I’m interested in discovering this country through her books. I knew I’d want to read the second volume of Niel’s series in French Guiana. Janis Otsiemi is from Gabon. Reading one of his books will be a way to read about his country. I tend to pick crime fiction books that have more texture than just the plot.

Have you read and / or reviewed one of these books? Links to your reviews are welcome.

The festival was great and the atmosphere very relaxed. Writers seem happy to be there, to participate to debates, to meet eager readers and see each other. Last year, 20 million of crime fiction books were sold in France, in a country of 67 million inhabitants. I think it’s quite impressive, especially for a country that has libraries in every town. It means that more than 20 million of crime fiction books were read, if you take into account libraries and people lending books to each other.

I don’t know the 2016 figures yet, of course. But last year, 70 000 people came to the festival and 30 000 books were sold in three days. We’ll see how it went this year but I bet it’s even more. I’ll end this enthusiastic billet with a big thank you to the organizers and volunteers of the festival, it was fascinating and well-organised. A real pleasure.

Well, now my literary weekend is over and it’s time to go back to my non-literary job & life. 🙂

  1. April 4, 2016 at 2:42 am

    Lucky you. What a fantastic event and with the CSI elements, it sounds as if the whole community got into the spirit of things. I was going to ask what attendance was like but you answered that for me.


    • April 4, 2016 at 8:39 pm

      I told Marina Sofia “Guy would love to be here”.

      The whole city breathes crime fiction during three days. There are also films at the Musée Lumière. I love that the police academy participates as well. It’s never open to public and there aren’t a lot of tickets for this visit.

      I thought of you in their little museum, you would have loved it. They make a connection between literature and real crime investigation. Balzac encouraged Vidocq to write his memoirs. Edmond Locard, a pioneed or forensic science was from Lyon. He said that his research was somehow influenced by…Sherlock Holmes. Isn’t that incredible?

      The whole atmosphere is relaxed and an ode to this literary genre.

      Liked by 1 person

      • April 4, 2016 at 10:18 pm

        I have the Vidocq memoirs–didn’t know that Balzac encouraged him..


        • April 11, 2016 at 12:50 pm

          Apparently they were good friends.


  2. April 4, 2016 at 7:06 am

    You summarised it beautifully! It was lovely spending that literary weekend with you and in Lyon, it will be hard to return to everyday matters.


    • April 4, 2016 at 8:31 pm

      Thanks. It was a lovely weekend and yes, it was a bit hard to come back to real life.


  3. April 4, 2016 at 9:25 am

    It sounds like a terrific festival – plus the setting looks amazing! I’m surprised that the French publishers’ want to wipe away some of the local idiosyncrasies from the French-Canadian fiction. As you say, surely the Quebec flavour is all part of attraction? Oh well…you’ve got a nice selection of new books to look forward to there!


    • April 4, 2016 at 8:30 pm

      It is truly a terrific festival and they have access to beautiful meeting rooms.
      The Québec flavour is definitely part of the attraction. I’m looking forward to reading Côté’s book.
      I think I have enough crime fiction to read for a few months now.


  4. April 4, 2016 at 7:51 pm

    Nice and good coverage. I did not know much about that event and did not suspect how interesting it could be!


    • April 4, 2016 at 8:27 pm

      Thanks. It’s a great event for book lovers.


  5. April 5, 2016 at 4:02 am

    Of all the beautiful pictures and history and events you’ve put in your post, I’m most envious (happy) that you and Marina Sofina got to spend the day together! I’d so love to hang out with some of you bloggers in real life.


    • April 7, 2016 at 10:29 pm

      It very nice to meet bloggers in real life, indeed. Each time I meet one, it was a great time with a fellow book lover.


  6. April 5, 2016 at 6:30 pm

    Lyon is lovely and it does sound a genuinely splendid event. Marvellous too that they laid on the stuff with the commissaires and CSI people. What a fun festival!


    • April 7, 2016 at 10:32 pm

      Lyon is a beautiful city. The weather wasn’t fantastic during the festival, too bad for “tourists”.

      The visit at the police academy was great. I didn’t know beforehand what they show us and I was surprised to see what they decided to do. It was truly fascinating.


  7. N@ncy
    April 6, 2016 at 2:10 pm

    Thanks so much for this post with all your impressions surrounding Quais du Polar 2106. You’ve given me so many reading suggestions (new writers I’ve never heard of!) and I can’t wait to start reading CF once again.


    • April 7, 2016 at 10:33 pm

      Thanks Nancy. I hope you’ll like the writers you’ll try after reading this. I hope they won’t disappoint.


  8. April 10, 2016 at 9:44 pm

    I just read, Naïra Nahapétian, but you already saw my post. I’ll have to had Férey Caryl to my PAL.
    Thanks for your review about quai du Polar


    • April 11, 2016 at 12:51 pm

      I’m looking forward to reading the Nahapétian.
      I’ve just finished Zulu: good but violent.

      Liked by 1 person

      • April 12, 2016 at 7:39 am

        I have not been completly in love by Nahapetian, I’ll wait your opinion on another book.
        I’ll try Caryl Férey with Condor, i’ve already seen the movie Zulu


  1. April 4, 2016 at 12:30 pm
  2. April 6, 2016 at 4:31 pm
  3. May 21, 2016 at 3:26 pm

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