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  • 9781910477588_fc
Edition details


eBook ISBN

Publication date
22nd February 2018


Gallic Books


Extent (number of pages)

Melanie Florence, Emily Boyce & Svein Clouston



BIC category

US publication date
30th January 2018




Gallic Noir: Volume 1

(L'A26, Comment va la douleur?, La Théorie du panda)


Pascal Garnier’s ‘deliciously dark and painfully funny’ noirs, now collected in three volumes.

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This title is not yet published, but can be pre-ordered


Enter the world of Pascal Garnier, where life’s misfits take centre stage, there is drama in the everyday and the unexpected is always just around the corner.

Dark, funny and shot through with menace, these perfectly crafted novellas are also affecting studies in human alienation.

Massively acclaimed by both reviewers and fellow authors, Garnier has been compared to many other writers, yet he remains the master of his own unique brand of Gallic noir.

Volume 1 includes:

The A26, in which a new Picardy motorway brings modernity close to a flat in which a brother and sister live together, haunted by terminal illness and the events of 1945

How’s the Pain?, the tale of an ageing ‘pest exterminator’ taking on one last job on the French Riviera

The Panda Theory, in which a stranger, Gabriel, arrives in a Breton town and befriends the locals … but is he as angelic as he seems?

Reviews for The A26
‘For those with a taste for Georges Simenon or Patricia Highsmith, Garnier’s recently translated oeuvre will strike a chord … While this is an undeniably steely work, his translator Melanie Florence does justice to the author’s occasional outbreaks of dark humour that suddenly pierce through the clouds of encroaching existential gloom.’ The Independent
‘The events in Simenon’s Maigret stories are seemingly random and opaque until the great detective perceives how they all fit together; in The A26 we get the story from the other side, as it were, and without any intervention by the forces of good. And Garnier never gives a clear motive for Bernard’s murderous turn because this is our random, godless age and there’s a top dressing to the novel of a very French existentialism … This is tough, bloody stuff, but put together with a cunning intelligence.’ The Sunday Times
‘Literary fiction with a hapless, desperate serial killer … as the book went on it began to really grip me. The truth that is revealed is that for these Frenchmen and women the war has never really ended, and they are the poorer for it.’ The Big Issue
The A26 is a warning against hermeticism, blockades and isolation: an illustration that the borders we so unthinkingly put up – even those literary distinctions between genres – are in fact unstable and transient. The proper word for this rejection of boundaries and certainties is probably “modernism” and this, it seems, is the best label for the book: at least it’s better than the bullshitty genre compound “Horror-fiction-literary-black-comedy-noir”. But the fact remains that whatever you do decide to call The A26, the book is absolutely fantastic.’ Tomcat in the Red Room
‘Another darkly odd piece of the French world … This book will appeal to fans of The League of Gentlemen … Yolande and Bernard are very much a French Edward and Tubbs’ Winstonsdad’s Blog
‘The grim tale of this diabolical duo is entirely redeemed by the stylistic prose of the author who, as the French know, excels in this sort of tale.’ Russell James, Crime Time
Reviews for How’s the Pain?
‘Funny, poignant, easy to read and yet very unsettling … a cross between a thriller, a road trip, comedy and social documentary’ Crime Fiction Lover
Chosen by Marina Sofia as number one crime read of 2012 on Crime Fiction Lover: ‘the perfect noir … deceptively simple yet oddly lyrical’.
‘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
Reviews for The Panda Theory
‘This perfectly formed and pocket-sized homage to dull everyday provincial existence, punctuated by the staccato eccentricity of its characters and the sudden fate of violence, is tinged with a jet-black farce that only the French can truly achieve.’ Amazon reviewer
‘Garnier’s take on the frailty of life has a bracing originality.’ The Sunday Times
The Panda Theory is a short, tightly plotted novel that keeps you guessing right to the end. Is Gabriel, the man we see arriving in a Breton town one Sunday evening, a hero or a villain? Is his reserve a sign of modesty or of malevolence? The novel has a dryness and a keen, often sharp wit combined with a sense of life’s banalities, that I really enjoyed’ New Books
‘Grimly humorous and tremendously dark … Superb.’ Le Figaro Littéraire
‘Wonderfully warm, sad, humorous (and brilliantly translated)’ Bookgroup.info
‘For those who like their stories situated at the borderline between thriller and something else’ Crime Fiction Lover
‘I found the characters much more engaging than I would normally in noir fiction … All the characters seem real and remain feeling French throughout the translation. Gabriel’s past troubles are revealed in short flashbacks, slowly building up a picture of what he was running from.’ Curiosity Killed the Bookworm
‘Dark enough to sink the hook deep into fans of noir’ Publishers Weekly
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.’ The Game’s Afoot
The Panda Theory is a hard to place novel — not quite a thriller, not quite a noir, not quite a study of the individual and society, though it has elements of all of these. It is a novel of calm, and though ultimately this calm is disrupted — really disrupted — even that turns out differently than readers might have expected.’ The Complete Review
‘Arch and lyrical, these mischievous little books are about people who spend so long living in the past that they can’t bear to live in the present … They’re published as noir over here, but they have a macabre edge to them, a devilish suspicion of change.’ Crime Thriller Fella
‘His style is delightful, full of aphoristic phrases, clever metaphors (a shopkeeper is described as “a mist of a man”; a female character painted as “like a Russian tank, fuelled by vodka and driven by an irrepressible urge to conquer the void”), and dry humour, all underpinned with a bleakness he is careful to let slice through only every so often.’ Alex Reading Books
Praise for Pascal Garnier
‘Wonderful… Properly noir’ Ian Rankin
‘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
‘Horribly funny … appalling and bracing in equal measure. Masterful’ John Banville
‘Ennui, dislocation, alienation, estrangement – these are the colours on Garnier’s palette. His books are out there on their own, short, jagged and exhilarating’ Stanley Donwood
‘The combination of sudden violence, surreal touches and bone-dry humour have led to Garnier’s work being compared with the films of Tarantino and the Coen brothers’ Sunday Times
‘Deliciously dark … painfully funny’ New York Times
‘A mixture of Albert Camus and JG Ballard’ Financial Times
‘A brilliant exercise in grim and gripping irony; makes you grin as well as wince’ Sunday Telegraph
‘A master of the surreal noir thriller – Luis Buñuel meets Georges Simenon’ Times Literary Supplement
‘Devastating and brilliant’ Sunday Times
‘Bleak, often funny and never predictable’ The Observer

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.

Melanie Florence teaches at The University of Oxford and translates from the French.

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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