Review: The Panda Theory by Pascal Garnier

Esta entrada es bilingüe, para ver la versión en castellano desplazarse hacia abajo

Gallic Books, 2012. Kindle edition. 204 KB. Translated by Svein Clouston. Original title: La Théorie du panda (2008), eBook ISBN 978-1908313232. ASIN: B007HOO7T2. 128 pages.

One Sunday in October a mysterious character who calls himself Gabriel arrives at a gloomy town in the interior of Brittany. ‘The sea was far away, its presence unimaginable.’ We know nothing about him, though, through short fragments intertwined with the main narrative, the reader finds out that Gabriel is haunted by his past. Gradually, he will meet several people. Madeleine, the hotel receptionist; Jose, the owner of the local bistro; and a young couple hosted in the same hotel. One way or the other Gabriel is always willing to help them without expecting anything in return. But the reader suspects that, at some point, the story will take an unexpected turn.

The first thing that has struck me is that The Panda Theory is beautifully written. It will delight those who like their novels with a dark tone, and this one is certainly a bleak novel. But this doesn’t mean that it lacks a certain sense of humour. It is also a novel that is difficult to classify as crime fiction, or any genre. I’ve read somewhere that Pascal Garnier himself did not believed in genres. He has been compared to George Simenon. If this is the case, no one should be misled. This is not a Maigret mystery, but what Simenon himself had termed as ‘roman dur’ or hard novel. Pascal Garnier sadly died in March 2010. ‘Though his writing is often very dark in tone, it sparkles with quirkily beautiful imagery and dry wit.’ What I fully subscribe. After his death, Gallic Books has made ​​available to the English-speaking audience some of his books. To date four have been published The Panda Theory, How’s the Pain?, The A26 and Moon in a Dead Eye. A fifth one, The Front Seat Passenger, will be released soon. Highly recommended.

My rating: A (I loved it)

The Panda Theory has been reviewed by Crime Thriller FellaThe Complete Review (M.A.Orthofer), findingtimetowrite (Marina Sofia).

Gallic Books

Éditions Zulma 

Pascal Garnier (écrivain)

La Teoría del Panda de Pascal Garnier

Un domingo de octubre, un misterioso personaje que se hace llamar Gabriel llega a un pueblo sombrío en el interior de Bretaña. “El mar estaba lejos, su presencia inimaginable.” No sabemos nada de él, a pesar de que, a través de fragmentos cortos entrelazados con la narración principal, el lector se entera de que Gabriel vive atormentado por su pasado. Poco a poco, va a conocer a varias personas. Madeleine, la recepcionista del hotel; José, el dueño del restaurante local; y una joven pareja que se aloja en el mismo hotel. De una forma u otra Gabriel está siempre dispuesto a ayudar sin esperar nada a cambio. Pero el lector sospecha que, en algún momento, la historia tomará un giro inesperado.

Lo primero que me ha llamado la atención es que La teoría del Panda está muy bien escrita. Hará las delicias de aquellos que gusten de sus novelas con un tono oscuro, y ésta es sin duda una novela muy sombría. Pero esto no quiere decir que carezca de un cierto sentido del humor. También es una novela difícil de clasificar como novela negra, o de cualquier género. He leído en alguna parte que el propio Pascal Garnier no creía en los géneros. Ha sido comparado con George Simenon. Si este es el caso, nadie debe engañarse. Este no es un misterio de Maigret, sino lo que el propio Simenon había denominado como “roman dur” o novela dura. Pascal Garnier murió lamentablemente en marzo de 2010. “Aunque su escritura tiene a menudo un tono muy oscuro, brilla por la insospechada belleza de sus imágenes y por su agudo ingenio.” Lo que suscribo plenamente. Después de su muerte, Gallic Books ha puesto a disposición del público de habla inglesa algunos de sus libros. Hasta la fecha se han publicado cuatro The Panda Theory, How’s the Pain?, The A26 y Moon in a Dead Eye. Un quinto, The Front Seat Passenger, será publicado proximamente. Muy recomendable.

Mi valoración: A (Me encantó).

18 thoughts on “Review: The Panda Theory by Pascal Garnier”

  1. Glad you liked it, Jose! This is one exceptional writer – dark, with a fierce and very quirky sense of humour, and a lot of compassion under that hard front.

  2. Thanks. Now I’m even more eager for the three novel Garnier compilation of his French originals that should arrive on my door step any day now….

  3. The high points you cite in this review hold true for THE FRONT SEAT PASSENGER and LES INSULAIRES (no English translation), which are both works I’ve recently read. It worries me that similarities may recur in future reads sufficiently enough to squash my interest in continuing the series. The next one I have, TROP PRES DU BORD (no English translation), and your next review(s) are apt to be the decision makers.

    Notably for Garnier fans, Zulma indicates that English translations of more French originals are under consideration.

    1. Certainly I regret that my French level is not as good as to be able to read this books in its original language. You have raised an interesting point. Too early for me at this stage, but worth to take it into account.

  4. I’ve finished the Garnier trilogy and thank you for getting me there. The last of the three, TOO CLOSE TO THE EDGE is the one I liked the most, perhaps because I was more familiar with the author’s approach. They were all capitivating reads, not quite can’t put down books, but still with a strong pull to find out what was going to happen.

    Garnier’s writing is straight-forward, but preserving it in translation wouldn’t be easy, especially given the amount of contemporary French slang. The style, atmosphere, dialogue, description, and action are all enticing. I enjoyed their blackness, yet the plots are a little too fantastic, the mood a bit too pessimistic, and the dénouements simply too negative for my taste.

    The FRONT SEAT PASSENGER is available; LES INSULAIRES may get translated.

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