I’ll be in touch

Both, my reading pace and my posts on this blog will be reduced somehow in the coming months. So far I’m finishing reading Jo Nesbo’s Nemesis, one of my favourite writers. Next I’ll tackle Hypothermia, Thirteen Hours, The White Gallows, Calle de la estación, 120,  La playa de los ahogados. …… and so on and so forth. Anyway I do expect to write at least one post each week but I’ll keep in touch. Have fun.

Truth by Peter Temple wins the Miles Franklin Literary Award 2010

9781921520716 I just want to echo that  Temple’s crime fiction book, Truth makes history for being the first work of genre fiction to win the Miles Franklin.

The most prestigious literary award in Australia was established in 1957 to celebrate Australian character and creativity. Good news to all crime fiction lovers.

See also Kerrie at Mysteries in Paradise, Craig at Crime Watch, Maxine at Petrona, Peter at Detectives Beyond Borders.

Sólo quiero hacerme eco de que la novela negra de Peter Temple, Truth, ha hecho historia al ser la primera novela de género en obtener el Miles Franklin.

El premio literario más prestigioso de Australia fue creado en 1957 para celebrar el carácter y la creatividad australiana. Buenas noticias para todos los amantes de la novela policíaca.

Más información en Casa del Libro y en Australian Crime Fiction Database.

Are Latin America open ended crime fiction books a new genre?

Peter Rozovsky brought an interesting comment to my post: Interview with Luiz Alfredo García-Roza:

I like what he has to say about his crime stories being open texts. This goes somewhat against that old suggestion that crime novels restore a social order ruptured by crime.
But Garcia-Roza is just one among contemporary crime writers for whom mystery means more than just a puzzle to be solved
.”

I presume these are García-Roza words:

“… A murder is not a problem, or at least, it is not only a problem to be solved, but it is also an enigma, in the same sense that ancient Greeks conceived the enigma: something that holds the truth but also holds the shadow side of the sentence, the ambiguity and the silence. So, I hope my readers are left with a vivid sensation of an open story. The sense of the story is always given by the reader, not by the writer. The writer gives only the text, and the richness of a fictional text is its capacity to produce countless senses and meanings. There is no final meaning.”

This seems to me an interesting comment since some scholars propose a new name for this genre: Spanish American alternative detective fiction. For example in a paper called La novela policial alternativa en Hispanoamérica, Diego Trilles Paz writes:

Despite the great popularity and increased prestige of classic detective fiction, as well as the American hard-boiled novel, since their introduction in the nineteenth century many readers and authors have perceived them as genres incompatible with Latin American realities. The inherent conventions of the whodunit, the presence of a detective whose legitimacy is never in doubt, and its conservative ideology, which presupposed the punishment of criminality and the reestablishment of the status quo, were incongruous in societies in which people had no faith in justice. The genre, then, was regarded as unrealistic for third world countries. In this way, in order to be plausible, the detective novel in Latin America needed a different approach.

In broad terms, these pages propose the emergence of a new genre that can be observed in the works of contemporary authors such as Vicente Leñero’s Los albañiles (1963), Ricardo Piglia’s Nombre falso (1975), Jorge Ibargüengoitia’s Las muertas (1977) and, most notably, in Roberto Bolaño’s Los detectives salvajes (1998), which I consider the most prominent and complex example of this type. The present study examines how this innovative Spanish American detective fiction incorporates and restates some of the structures and conventions of the hard-boiled novel and shares some features of contemporary Spanish American fiction, while developing its own characteristics in contrast with both detective fiction schools. Due to the necessity of the native writers to adopt, formally and thematically, alternative approaches when creating credible detective stories, I have named this emergent genre: Spanish American alternative detective fiction.”

Although others like Franklin Rodriguez  The Bind Between Neopolicial and Antipolicial, called it Neopolicial:

Critics like Braham, and writers such as Paco Ignacio Taibo II and Leonardo Padura Fuentes, promote the notion of the neopoliciaco. This concept refers to the self-conscious appropriation of structures and elements from the detective genre and to how these appropriations can lead to the creation of original detective stories rather than literary parodies. The neopoliciaco focuses on political and social criticism of the State and society, organized in part around the events of 1968 in Mexico, the Cuban struggles, particularly after 1989, and the dictatorships in Latin America during the 1970s and 1980s. In the neopoliciaco the traditional central role of the detective or the criminal event is combined with an exhaustive examination of the struggles of communities and secondary characters, usually associated with marginal situations. The figure of the detective as restorer of order and executor of the law is inverted in favor of balanced questioning and exposition of all the characters or institutions involved in the crime.”

My question is: Do you see open ended crime fiction stories as a new genre? Is there a similar trend in other countries? Can you give examples of some open ended crime fiction books/writers?

The Darkest Room by Johan Theorin

The Darkest RoomTheorin, Johan. The Darkest Room (2009). Translated by Marlaine Delargy. Black Swan edition published 2010. 480 pages.ISBN 978-0-552-77461-1.

The Darkest Room evolves around three elements, a house, an island and a severe winter storm, a blizzard. The house is an isolated manor house built in 1846 and open to the sea on north-eastern Öland. It was built to house the masters and keepers of the twin lighthouses in Eel Point. The foundations are made of granite from an old abandoned chapel and the timber came from ships wrecked on the rocks. Over the years it has acquired a dark reputation because of several deaths there. Öland is the second largest Swedish island. It’s located in the Baltic Sea just off the coast of Småland. Öland has 25,000 inhabitants, but at midsummer over 500,000 people reside on it. It’s separated from mainland by the Kalmar Strait but since 1972 it’s connected by a 6 km bridge (from Wikipedia). For a winter storm to be classified as a blizzard, it must meet several conditions: There must be falling or blowing snow, strong winds, and cold or falling temperatures. However there is no worldwide consensus on its definition.

The action takes place through several stories which will merge at a certain point near to the end. A young couple, Katrine and Joakim Westin, together with their children, Livia and Gabriel, have moved to a manor house in Eel Point. But soon their lives will be struck by tragedy. At the same time Henrik Jansson and the Serelius brothers have formed a criminal partnership to sack closed-up summer cottages which are abundant in that area. Meanwhile a young policewoman, Tilda Davidsson, arrives to a new police station on northern Öland in charge mainly of traffic offences, criminal damage, petty theft and break-ins. In her spare time she likes to hear family stories by her grandfather’s brother, Gerlof Davidsson.

The whole atmosphere of this book is beautifully drafted and it has some very interesting characters. The plot gains momentum and increases its intensity after a relatively slow start but the outcome is brilliant. This is a terrific book and I enjoyed it thoroughly. It is very well written and despite its continuous references to ghosts and legends, readers should be aware that, there are no supernatural occurrences in this absolutely superb novel.    th_scandinaviamap-1

2010 Scandinavian Reading Challenge Book # 5

2010 CWA International Dagger Shortlist Book # 3

The Darkest Room won the Glass Key Award in 2009, it was voted Best Swedish Crime Novel 2008 and it’s shortlisted for the CWA International Dagger in 2010. The Darkest Room is Johan Theorin’s second novel and it has certainly made me interested to read his first one, Echoes from the Dead (both translated from the Swedish by Marlaine Delargy). They are the first books in a quartet, The Öland Quartet, each one set in a different season. The spring novel will be called A Place of Blood.

The Darkest Room has been reviewed by: Maxine at Euro Crime, Dorte at Djs Krimiblog, Michael Carlson at Irresistible Targets, It’s a Crime! (Or a Mystery), Kerrie at Mysteries in Paradise, Glenn Harper at International Noir Fiction, Uriah Robinson at Crime Scraps, Vanda at Overkill, Scandinavian Crime Fiction, Yvonne Klein at Reviewing the evidence, Scandinavian Books, Bernadette at Reactions to Reading.

See also Johan Theorin Official UK Website

Read an excerpt at The Random House Group

José Saramago. In Memoriam

Jose SaramagoYesterday, Friday, June 18, José Saramago died at 12:30 pm at his home in Lanzarote as a result of multiple organ failure after a long illness. He was 87 years old. Saramago was awarded with the Nobel Prize for literature in 1998. The best homage I can pay him is to remember one of his books, actually my favourite,  Memorial do Convento, 1982 (The unfortunate English title, Baltasar and Blimunda, 1987). caminho_capa3

Photo: Portuguese writer José Saramago, downloaded from Periodista digital.com, site: http://www.periodistadigital.com/libros/object.php?o=323249

Opening line:

D. João, quinto do nome na tabela real, irá esta noite ao quarto de sua mulher, D. Maria Ana Josefa, que chegou há mais de dois anos da Áustria para dar infantes à coroa portuguesa a até hoje ainda não emprenhou.

The back-cover reads:

Era uma vez um rei que fez promessa de levantar um covento em Mafra. Era uma vez a gente que construiu esse convento. Era uma vez um soldado maneta e uma mulher que tinha poderes. Era uma vez um padre que queria voar e morreeu doido. Era uma vez.”

Book review by Bob Corbett

The New York Times Book Review

Fundação José Saramago

Memorial do Convento

Barnes & Noble