Home > About reading, Gallmeister, Literary Escapades, Personal Posts > Literary escapade: Book haul in Bécherel, the book village

Literary escapade: Book haul in Bécherel, the book village

In my last billet about Bécherel, the book village in Brittany, I promised another billet about the books I got there. Of course, I had to refrain myself or I would have brought back LOTS of books. Lucky me, we drove to Brittany and there’s plenty of space in the car to bring books back home.

In the bookstore Le Donjon, I discovered a whole shelf of crime fiction by Breton writers and set in Brittany. See for yourself:


Apart from a lost book by Tony Hillerman, all of these are published by Breton publishers. I’ve never heard of these writers, I don’t think I’ve seen their name on the Quais du Polar List. I had to get some, right?

I browsed throught the pages, eliminated those whose style didn’t suit me and picked up Dernier concert à Vannes by Hervé Huguen (Last concert in Vannes) and Colin-maillard à Ouessant by Françoise Le Mer (Hide and Seek in Ouessant)


Both are the first installment of a series, one with Commissaire Baron and the other with Le Fur and Le Gwen, two inspectors from Brest. I asked the libraire about Breton school of crime fiction and he told me that he’d only found out about it. He’s read a few and he told me that they allow you to travel to places you’ve never been before. We’ll see how I’ll like them.

Then I stumbled upon a big shelf of old Série Noire books by Gallimard. This is the collection that introduced Noir and hardboiled to French readers. They also have classic crime, with Agatha Christie or Ngaio Marsh, for example. Simenon was published in Série Noire too. It’s very famous and still going on, still with yellow covers.

I found a copy of The Big Sleep by Raymond Chandler (Le grand sommeil) and of Hell Hath No Fury by Charles Williams (Je t’attends au tournant)


This copy of The Big Sleep was published in 1948 and it’s a translation by Boris Vian. This French version of Hell Hath No Fury is translated by Bruno Martin and dates back to 1955.

I can’t wait to compare the translations to the originals. Early Série Noire books are notorious for formated translations and faith to the original was not a cardinal value. Gallmeister and Rivages have started to re-translate some Noir and hardboiled classics to make up for these botched up translations.

I got more crime fiction with All She Was Worth by Miyabe Miyuki and The Garden of Hell by Nick Wilgus. Both are published by Picquier, a publisher specialized in Asian fiction. Now I know what I’ll read for Japanese lit month and I’m intrigued by the character Father Ananda in the Nick Wilgus.


Then I got two books by writers I’m fond of, Philippe Besson (Lie With Me) and Dominique Sylvain, a crime fiction writers whose books should be more translated into English.


Then I found an old paperback edition of The Confusion of Young Törless by Robert Musil (All set for German Lit Month!) and Faillir être flingué by Céline Minard, a Western written by a French woman writer that won the Prix du livre Inter in 2014. I’m curious. This one is not available in English but has been translated into German and Italian.


I also browsed through shelves looking for the bear paw that signals a Gallmeister book. I didn’t find any except Dancing Bear by James Crumley, translated by Jacques Mailhos and The Signal by Ron Carlson, translated by Sophie Aslanides. I’m sure I’ll love these books, translated by two excellent translators.


I don’t know why I couldn’t find more Gallmeister books. Perhaps the publishing house is too young to have many books landing in second hand bookstores. Perhaps the books are too gorgeous to be given away. Perhaps it’s a bit of both.

Well, this is it! I’m happy with my book haul and its diversity. Have you read any of these books?

Our next Literary Escapade will be about Chateaubriand, born and bred in Brittany. Meanwhile, I need to catch up with book review billets as I have a backlog.








  1. July 29, 2020 at 11:16 am

    Ooooh, lovely! What finds! I don’t know why I covet Gallimard editions so much, especially as I couldn’t read then… Look forward to hearing about Chateaubriand, as he lurks on my TBR! 😀


    • July 29, 2020 at 5:55 pm

      I have a selection of texts from Chateaubriand. I don’t know if I’ll like him but he’s worth a try.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. July 29, 2020 at 11:44 am

    Completely agree with you that I wish Dominique Sylvain (and another Dominique – Manotti) were better known in the English speaking world. I think they have been sporadically translated, but obviously have not sold enough to warrant more. That collection of Breton writers looks beautiful – they might not all be worth reading, but it’s a lovely holiday souvenir. I got curious about Welsh literature after a holiday there.


    • July 29, 2020 at 5:57 pm

      Totally agree with you about Dominique Manotti.
      I too, thought that the Breton books looked good. And yes, it’s a nice souvenir.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. July 29, 2020 at 5:00 pm

    wow, nice haul!! All She Was Worth and Chandler’s are on my TBR. A translation by Vian, how fun! Enjoy all these goodies


    • July 29, 2020 at 5:58 pm

      Thanks! I’m curious about Vian’s translation.


    • deschampsseverineseverine
      July 29, 2020 at 8:53 pm

      Very good choices 😉

      Liked by 1 person

      • July 31, 2020 at 6:46 am

        I’ll lend you the two Gallmeister.


  4. Vishy
    August 4, 2020 at 7:15 pm

    Beautiful books you’ve got, Emma! Love the Série Noire editions! Enjoy your new books! Happy reading!


  5. August 6, 2020 at 6:20 pm

    Very nice.

    I think I might have written up some Chateaubriand at mine. Can’t clearly remember now.

    Re series, I basically try really hard now not to start new series however good. It’s why I’m not reading the James Lee Burke/Dave Robicheauxs which look excellent, or the Longmire books. Basically I already have more series on the go than I’m really managing to keep up with.

    Although despite that general prohibition I have bought Dominique Sylvain’s The Dark Angel. If I’m lucky I won’t like it…


    • August 6, 2020 at 9:15 pm

      Who says you have to read all the books of a series? It’s up to you. I don’t think I’ll read more of Hervé Huguen but the one I’ve read was entertaining.

      You’re missing out on the Dave Robicheaux. Have you read The Lost Get Back Boogie by Burke? It’s not part of a series and it’s excellent. (See my billet in July)


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