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  • 9781906040420_FC
Edition details


eBook ISBN

Publication date
26th March 2012


Gallic Books


Extent (number of pages)

Svein Clouston


Worldwide : Exclusive

BIC category

US publication date
18th March 2014




The Panda Theory

(La Théorie du panda)


‘You’ve only been here for a few days but you already know loads of people. You walk into people’s lives, just like that.’

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‘You’ve only been here for a few days but you already know loads of people. You walk into people’s lives, just like that.’

Gabriel is a stranger in a small Breton town. Nobody knows where he came from or why he’s here. Yet his small acts of kindness, and exceptional cooking, quickly earn him acceptance from the locals.

His new friends grow fond of Gabriel, who seems as reserved and benign as the toy panda he wins at the funfair.

But unlike Gabriel, the fluffy toy is not haunted by his past….

‘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
‘Often bleak, often funny and never predictable.’ The Observer
‘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

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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