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NOIR by Olivier Pauvert


by Olivier Pauvert & translated by Adriana Hunter

Pub Date: Dec. 1st, 2008
ISBN: 978-1-58243-447-6
Publisher: Counterpoint

A brutal crime sends a young Frenchman on a surreal journey to find out if he committed it.

Once she’d been pretty, but now she hangs from a tree, murdered and mangled. Staring at her, the nameless hero realizes that he’s seen her before, but then suddenly reality shifts. Events hurtle by in a nightmarish blur until he’s inexplicably under guard and en route to prison. He never gets there. The police van crashes and cops are killed, a fate he’s lucky to avoid. Regaining consciousness, he finds himself a stranger in a strange place identified by its mysterious caretaker as the Crossing of the Ways. Though he’s mystified by much that’s happening, it’s clear he’s no longer in his own time. The France he’s known has morphed into a vicious fascist state controlled by unseen, draconian masters. Among the depressing features of this new regime are its Ministry of Racial Differences, which is inimical to people of color, and its jackbooted National Militia, which has targeted him as persona non grata. As he learns more about this strange new world, he also learns things about the dead girl, who was politically well-connected enough to be considered dangerous by the party in power. But in the final analysis it’s what he learns about himself that goes to the heart of the matter, because it’s truly terrifying.

This debut import would be even more unsettling if Kafka and Orwell hadn’t gotten there first.