My new favorite publisher

It’s a sweeping thing to say, but for the moment, it’s true — and the name to remember is Europa Editions.

Why have they become my new favorite publisher? Because of chance, really. A copy of the English-language version of Jean-Claude Izzo’s TOTAL CHAOS crossed the transom a few days back, and I finished reading the book the other day. I’d heard a fair bit about the late French author (who died of lung cancer back in 2000) and his noted Marseilles Trilogy, which has been compared to James Ellroy’s LA Quartet for its noir tone, sociopolitical commentary and the like. I can’t properly judge if that’s the case, but this is an excellent book, seeping with pathos, cynicism and romanticism like the best of Mediterranean Noir should.

And when I went to look Europa up, my curiosity turned to excitement. Here’s why: as it turns out, they are the English-language version of edizioni, the noted Italian publisher of good folks like Massimo Carlotto, Carlo Lucarelli, and Izzo. All of whom will have books published in America in the next few months. Europa launched last month with the publication of Elena Ferrante’s THE DAYS OF ABANDONMENT, which has received many a good review since its release.

I’ve long been a huge fan of both Carlotto and Lucarelli and whined to various folks as to why they were only published in the UK to date — and based on the fact that after 2 books, there doesn’t seem to be a third one in sight for either, perhaps not terribly well.

Especially in Carlotto’s case, what’s not to like about this tagline for THE GOODBYE KISS (due out in January)?

An unscrupulous womanizer, as devoid of morals as he once was full of idealistic fervor, returns to Italy where he is wanted for a series of political crimes. To avoid prison he sells out his old friends, turns his back on his former ideals, and cuts deals with crooked cops. To achieve the guise of respectability he is willing to go even further, maybe even as far as murder.

I am so there. As I am for Lucarelli’s CARTE BLANCHE, which won’t even be out till next July. And Alicia Giminez-Bartlett, too.

The other reason? Reissues of what look to be damn good noir classics. Patrick Hamilton’s HANGOVER SQUARE, which I have been dying to read for years now. Noted Israeli author Benjamin Tammuz’s MINOTAUR*. Aussie Chad Taylor’s DEPARTURE LOUNGE, which had decent play when it was published in the UK some years ago.

Granted, it’s hard to know if any of these books will really sell a great many books, but I’m just so damn happy to have the opportunity to read them. Same goes for anything published by Bitter Lemon Press. There are so many different ways to write crime fiction, and why not have a chance to access as many of them as possible?

UPDATE, 10/24/05: I picked up a copy of MINOTAUR over the weekend and devoured it pretty much in one sitting. It’s a brilliant, moody, Graham Greene-ish novel that manages to pack several character narratives, a meditation on unrequited love and thwarted expectations, and incredible suspense in under 200 pages. And the book looks and feels beautiful. Well done.