Saturday, January 19, 2008

Gadding about this week (Quercus & Crimini)

This has been the week for book launches. Last Tuesday, Maxine and I attended the launch of Quercus' MacLehose imprint. The first offering from which was The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo by Stieg Larsson.

Ali (who took this photograph) has already comprehensively written up the proceedings on The Rap Sheet.

Then on Thursday we were off to the launch of Crimini, a collection of Italian noir short stories from Bitter Lemon Press. The short stories have been turned into a tv series also called Crimini and the evening began with a short clip from Diego Da Silva's entry, set in Naples. Then the bulk of the night was a panel of Crimini editor, Giancarlo De Cataldo, Frances Fyfield and Maxim Jakubowski. In a short intermission, the beginning of Romanzo Criminale was shown (De Cataldo wrote the book and was heavily involved in the film).

I took a few notes which are a bit disjointed:

Crime fiction is a relatively new genre in Italy. Carlo Lucarelli is considered the doyen of the genre. A second Crimini collection is planned with some new authors.

De Cataldo chose the authors for Crimini by asking his friends. He was later asked why there are no female authors in the collection but couldn't really answer that. Maxim stated that his forthcoming Rome Noir would have stories from three female writers, though, De Cataldo pointed out, only one is actually a crime writer.

Frances Fyfield said that American crime fiction taught her that you can have humour in a crime novel and she gave the example of Carl Hiaasen.

De Cataldo is a judge (and married to a lawyer "it happens") and Fyfield is a prosecutor. She said she felt priviledged to see other people's stories and always wanted to finish the stories off. Different professions would have led them to write different stories.

De Cataldo asked the Crimini authors to choose a place, a city and link it to the story, to the land. Camilleri - "the noble father" - said he couldn't write a Montalbano story as he'd written too many already. The book shows a very different side to the clich├ęd view of Italy.

For the tv series, to much audience amazement, the authors and screenwriters collaborated and agreed on how the story was to appear on screen. A character in Marcello Fois' story had to be changed from a politician to a manager. The tv series was well received critically and a second series is planned.

After the intermission, the discussion moved on to Romanzo Criminale. The Director's cut has 40 more minutes. The DVD was more successful than the film, all over Europe.

De Cataldo has written a follow-up to Romanzo Criminale with two of the characters from the original book. He has edited his original 700 pages to 350. Women have more importance in this one.

Neither book is available in English. Maxim said that the size of the Romanzo Criminale book and the current economics of publishing translated fiction were to blame.

There was some good news though, a tv series in collaboration with SKY began shooting last week. Different to the book and film but related somehow to Romanzo Criminale (I didn't catch that bit). It will be quite violent and viewers must be over 14.

De Cataldo also mentioned Quo Vadis, Baby? which started as a book, went on to be filmed and is now a tv series.
Details of the Crimini tv series can be found on the Italian tv channel RAI site and there are some videos and film stills. The video of the 'behind the scenes' is also viewable on YouTube. Also on YouTube is a clip from the Rapidamente episode (though I think this is just the scenes with Gabriella Pession!). The episodes are also available on Italian DVD but (not surprisingly) there aren't any English subtitles.

Is it too much to hope that BBC4 or Channel 4 will buy and subtitle the Crimini series...?

1 comment:

Ali Karim said...

Hi Karen -

Great seeing you at the Dragon Tattoo launch, which was an excellent evening. It was a pity I didn't get enough time to chat to you an Maxine - as after Christopher MacLehose finished his fascinating speech, I looked for you and Max in the throng but couldn't see you.

Thanks for the report on the Italian evening, I had wanted to attend but due to a last minute diary clash I had missed the evening, but your report was as good as being there.