The idle ramblings of a Jack of some trades, Master of none

As I don't get much reading done at home, I have no alternative but to read en route to and from work. This is clearly not as satisfying as reading while being horizontal, nibbling on munchies closely proximate. I can't read on buses or cars, as I start to feel violently sick after a bit, and on trains, the onset of nausea is driven by my orientation: facing the direction of motion or orthogonal to it. Standing and reading has its own drawbacks. I am constantly jostled by folks getting on or off, or I have to move aside to let people get off their seats. But if I have to read, I have to adjust, and - even if I say so myself - I have developed the art of reading on the move to a high level.

For example, I can read while walking. I walk around obstacles and rats and dogs, and I depend entirely on the goodwill of fellow pedestrians not to knock me off the pavement. Of course, often it rains and I am prevented from my jaywalking perusal of the latest book. In winter, it's too dark to read in the mornings and evenings. Also, I am restricted in the type of books I can tote about with me. No more hardcovers of glossy paper. Only softbacks will do, and this is where the Eurocrime series is most appropriate. I needn't worry about concentrating too hard, my attention can wander occasionally, the books are not too thick, and I can finish them in four trips. Two trips to work, two back, and it's onto the next tome. Life is good.

So what are these Eurocrime novels? Well, those who have been closely following my end-of-year roundups of translated crime fiction (not that they have had much to follow, as there have only been two articles) will note that there are manifold mystery authors dotting the countryside, and many of these are Europeans. In fact, a very large number of them are Scandinavians. There must be something about the cold and bleakness in those parts that makes these Nordics write the coldest and bleakest novels, suffused with so much despair that one wonders how their characters even get out of bed. One finds the likes of Karin Fossum (Norwegian) and Karin Alvtegen (Swedish) and Christian Jungersen (Danish) and Yrsa Sigurðardóttir (Icelandic) and Matti Joenssu (Finnish) in this company.

Then there are the Latins. Eugenio Fuentes (Spanish), Gianrico Carofiglio (Italian) and Luis Miguel Rocha (Portuguese) are all bestsellers in their native lands, and have begun to be translated into English. These guys are not bleak by any stretch of the imagination, although they do love to dwell on the underbelly of society. They are aromatic, sunny, drug-infused, foodie, colourful.

There are Central Europeans somewhere in this lot as well: Christine Spindler (German) and Marek Krajewski (Polish). And we have the Sephardic Eliette Abécassis from France.

I've read some of these authors and plan to plough my way through the oeuvre. At least one book from every non-English-writing author listed in the Eurocrime website shall be sneaked up on and attempted this year. I have spoken.


Space Bar said...

yay for that!

V Ramesh said...

now I can relate to your "tough" comments :)

soon we can expect a criminal novel from you, eh.


V Ramesh said...

I forgot to mention the "stubbing the toe ..." comment as well

??! said...

What, the damn winds don't blow the book out of your hand?

Fëanor said...

??!: Not really, no. I have a grip like a caveman.

Ramesh: which should explain the toughness as well.

Space Bar: Are you a crime-fic maven, then?

Space Bar said...

yes! and this is for you: Zac O'Yeah (you need to get the latest issue of Penguin (India)'s First Proof 4 for a lovely non-fiction essay by him on his pulp noir.

Fëanor said...

SB: Thanks for that. Is that his real name? O'Yeah? New one for me.

Space Bar said...

oh, yeah it is. :D

Post a Comment