2012 Crime Fiction Alphabet S is for Saer, Juan Jose Saer


The Crime Fiction Alphabet arrives this week to letter “s”, and my S is for Saer. Juan José Saer was born in Serodino/Santa Fe in 1937, the son of Arab immigrants. He studied law and philosophy and from 1962 taught at the Santa Fe Instituto de Cinematografía. He moved to Paris in 1968 and taught literature at the University of Rennes until his retirement in 2002. In March 2003 he was awarded the Prix France Culture. Saer’s extensive literary oeuvre, which includes about twenty novels and collections of stories, is regarded as one of the most important in contemporary Argentinean literature since that of Jorge Luis Borges. Many of his works have been translated into several languages. In 1987 he was awarded the prestigious Spanish literary prize the Premio Nadal for his novel La ocasión (The Opportunity). An elegant storyteller, Saer in his novels deals repeatedly with the morbid consequences of individual thought and action when political repression or human cruelty blur all links with one’s own ego and disregard the criteria of social community. (Words without Borders). Saer’s work often builds on particular and highly codified genres, such as detective fiction La Pesquisa (The Investigation). He died in Paris in 2005, age 67, from lung cancer.

The Investigation (Serpent’s Tail, 1998), original title La Pesquisa, 1994. This labyrinthine work by Juan José Saer contains two parallel investigations into the complexities of madness, memory and crime. The cases; the famous mystery of a series of murders in Paris and a group of friends’ search for the author of a manuscript are the two concepts presented here for the reader’s consideration.
  With great ingenuity and a talent for finding exactly the right word, Saer examines our tendency to come to presumptive conclusions about what we cannot possibly know and exposes the difficulty of forming a realistic opinion in a world that cannot be simplified, delving into the darkest parts of our being to test our capacities of perception and understanding to the limit. (Guillermo Schavelzon Agencia Literaria)   

The Investigation has been reviewed at The Complete Review.

I have only read La ocasión, 1987, not a detective or crime fiction book, quite some time ago. Most I can remember is that it was very well written.

The 2012 Crime Fiction Alphabet is a Community Meme hosted by Kerrie at Mysteries in Paradise. By Friday of each week participants try to write a blog post about crime fiction related to the letter of the week. Click HERE to visit the contribution of other fellow bloggers.

2 thoughts on “2012 Crime Fiction Alphabet S is for Saer, Juan Jose Saer”

  1. José Ignacio – Thank you for the reminder of Saer’s work. I think I remember reading some of it years ago when I was at university, and I remember liking it. But I hadn’t thought about him or his writing in a long time. A fine choice for S.

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