Donald Nicholson-Smith, translator of Serge Pey‘s Treasure of the Spanish Civil War, Abdellatif Laâbi‘s In Praise of Defeat, and much more, writes about translating Jean-Patrick Manchette in CrimeReads this month. He reflects on the relationship between “genre” and “literary” fiction, the market for crime writing in translation, Manchette’s influences and legacy, and more. Read the piece here.
Jean-Patrick Manchette (1942–1995) was a genre-redefining French crime novelist, screenwriter, critic, and translator. Born in Marseille to a family of relatively modest means, Manchette grew up in a southwestern suburb of Paris, where he wrote from an early age. As Nicholson-Smith writes: “Today Jean-Patrick Manchette is widely thought by the French not only to have transformed (and radicalized) the crime novel but also to have considerably blurred the dividing line between genre and properly “literary” fiction. Just recently, marking the twenty-fifth anniversary of his untimely death from cancer in 1995, the publication of a sturdy volume of his correspondence has unleashed a storm of new attention to his achievement.”
Donald Nicholson-Smith was born in Manchester, England and is a longtime resident of New York City. His translations, ranging from psychoanalysis and social criticism to crime fiction, include works by Thierry Jonquet, Guy Debord, Paco Ignacio Taibo II, Henri Lefebvre, Raoul Vaneigem, Antonin Artaud, Jean Laplanche, and J.B. Pontalis. His translation of Apollinaire’s Letters to Madeleine was shortlisted for the 2012 French-American Foundation Prize for Nonfiction and in 2014 he won the Foundation’s Fiction Prize for his translation of Jean-Patrick Manchette’s The Mad and the Bad. His translation of In Praise of Defeat by Abdellatif Laâbi was shortlisted for the Griffin Poetry Prize in 2017.