Discover more from Fragmentary
Quais du Polar
The French crime festival in Lyon was all kinds of fantastic
It’s not every festival you attend that takes place in gorgeous historic buildings in one of the great foodie cities of the world, but it turns out that Quais du Polar is indeed one that does. I was invited to talk about Silverview (L’Éspion qui aimait des livres) and to be Aidan Truhen for the French translation of Seven Demons. As a matter of practicality I was also Nick Harkaway, discussing and signing Gnomon and the rest. I’ve never had to be both of my pseudonyms and my private self at the same time before, and it was surprisingly draining, though also fantastic.
I don’t know if you’ve read (or watched) The Rabbi’s Cat, but I had the pleasure of meeting its creator Joann Sfar, as well as the amazing Santiago Diaz, the fabulous Clarisse Serre - wait, now I’m just listing authors and I’m on my phone so I can’t easily do links for all of them, I should stop… RJ Ellory Jake Adelstein Deepti Kapoor Pétronille Rostagnat Claire Favan ok ok I’ll stop it was just a bit awesome is all.
Amid the fascinations of the human angle, a typically Harkawegian thought: I arrived on the Friday with old, broken French I hadn’t seriously used in over a year. I struggled through that day, managed on Saturday, then woke up on Sunday and found myself firehosing thoughts about neuroplasticity at a hapless visitor to my signing table (using ordinary words rather than technical, but still.) Well, she did ask. What delighted me, though, was that 48 hours was the time quoted to me years ago for the inversion experiment in neuroplasticity to take hold - for the subject to flip his perception of the world when wearing goggles which turned everything upside down. Accurate or not: for me, after two days of practicing my French in live fire form, it was like opening a valve.
The team at Sonatine (Aidan Truhen’s publisher) were amazing - thank you, Robin, Jeanne, Marie (and Marie). Thanks also to Philippe Manche who chaired the panel I did as Aidan, and managed to meld the experiences of two serious writers of criminal reality and one deranged literary maniac into a discussion that was fun, exciting and coherent. Likewise to Julie Malaure, whose elegantly formidable questioning produced what felt like a beautiful event around my father and my brief stint in his literary shoes for Silverview (and what it’s like being me!)
Thank you booksellers, festival organisers, readers, journalists, photographers, wanderers, ponderers, publishers, film-makers, panellists and all.
A superb festival. If you haven’t been, we should all go together in 2024.
I’m on a train somewhere. I can feel the rails and smell snow in the air. What a wonderful day.