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Publication date
9th July 2020


Gallic Books


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Emily Boyce


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US publication date
9th July 2020




How’s the Pain?

(Comment va la douleur?)


Death is Simon’s business. And now the ageing vermin exterminator is preparing to die. But he still has one last job down on the coast.

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Death is Simon’s business. And now the ageing vermin exterminator is preparing to die. But he still has one last job down on the coast, and he needs a driver.

Bernard is twenty-one. He can drive and he’s never seen the sea. He can’t pass up the chance to chauffeur for Simon, whatever his mother may say.

As the unlikely pair set off on their journey, Bernard soon finds that Simon’s definition of vermin is broader than he’d expected . . .

Veering from the hilarious to the horrific, this offbeat story from master stylist Pascal Garnier is at heart an affecting study of human frailty. This Editions Gallic reissue comes complete with an introduction from Booker-winning novelist John Banville.

‘How’s the Pain? is way off kilter, blackly comic and quintessentially Gallic.’ – Crime Time
‘Gloriously enjoyable both as an entertainment, and as a work of art . . . The true and unflinching depiction of even the worst of what the world can do to its human inhabitants, so frail and fleeting, is never less than edifying, and surpassingly pleasurable’ John Banville, from the Introduction
‘Garnier plunges you into a bizarre, overheated world, seething death, writing, fictions and philosophy. He’s a trippy, sleazy, sly and classy read’ A. L. Kennedy
‘Action-packed and full of gallows humour’ Sunday Telegraph
‘Tense, strange, disconcerting and slyly funny’ Sunday Times
‘Deliciously dark … painfully funny’ Marilyn Stasio, New York Times
‘This is remarkable fiction, cold and humane at the same time, pitch-black dark yet not bitter, ugly yet elegant’ The Complete Review
‘A tale that keeps the reader guessing as to whether the next scene will contain destruction, dark humor, or fleeting rays of hopefulness’ CrimeReads
‘Funny, poignant, easy to read and yet very unsettling … a cross between a thriller, a road trip, comedy and social documentary’ Crime Fiction Lover
‘A witty, droll shot of existential horror’ Toronto Star
‘Another seriously addictive example of French noir and reflection on human life’ The Friendly Shelf
‘Only now working their way into English translation, Garnier’s crime novels add significantly to the latest renaissance for this type of dark narrative.’ Publishers Weekly
‘Readers will relish the late Pascal Garnier’s graveyard humorous dark French noir’ Midwest Book Review

Emily Boyce is a translator and editor. Her translation of A Long Way Off by Pascal Garnier was runner up for the 2021 Scott Moncrieff Prize.

Pascal Garnier

Meet the author

Pascal Garnier, who died in March 2010, was a talented novelist, short story writer, children’s author and painter. From his home in the mountains of the Ardèche, he wrote fiction in a noir palette with a cast of characters drawn from ordinary provincial life. Though his writing is often very dark i…

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