Quint, Michel 1949-
QUINT, Michel 1949-
Born 1949, in Pas de Calais, France; married; children: two.
Home—Lille, France. Agent—c/o Author Mail, Penguin Group Publicity, 375 Hudson Street, New York, NY 10014.
Novelist and playwright.
Grand Prix Littérature Policière, 1989, for Billard à l'étage; International IMPAC Dublin Literary Award, Dublin City Public Libraries, 2003, for In Our Strange Gardens.
Billard à l'étage, Calmann-Lévy (Paris, France), 1989.
Les grands ducs, Calmann-Lévy (Paris, France), 1991.
Cake-walk, Éditions J. Losfeld, (Paris, France), 1993.
Le bélier noir, Éditions Rivage-Payot (Paris, France), 1994.
La belle ombre, Éditions Rivage-Payot (Paris, France), 1995.
Lundi perdu, Éditions J. Losfeld (Paris, France), 1997.
Effroyable jardins, Éditions J. Losfeld, (Paris, France), 2000, translation by Barbara Bray published as In Our Strange Gardens, Riverhead Books (New York, NY), 2001.
L'éternité, sans faute, Éditions Rivages-Payot (Paris, France), 2000.
A l'encre rouge, Éditions Rivages-Payot (Paris, France), 2002.
Aimer à peine, Éditions J. Losfeld (Paris, France), 2002.
Et mon mal est délicieux, Éditions J. Losfeld (Paris, France), 2004.
The novel Billard à l'étage was adapted for television, 1996; the novel Effroyables jardins was adapted for film (English translation, Strange Gardens), produced by Louis Becker, directed by Jean Becker, 2003.
Michel Quint is well known to French readers as a writer of award-winning psychological crime novels. After beginning his career writing plays for the stage and for radio, Quint tried his hand at the crime thriller genre. His novel Billard á l'étage was published in 1989 and won the prestigious Grand Prix de Littérature Policière.
The publication of Effroyable jardins in 2000 marked an important departure for Quint. In a novel based on the experiences of his own father, Quint explores the period of the German occupation of France from 1940 to 1945, framed by the 1997 trial of Maurice Papon, the wartime prefect of Bordeaux and convicted Nazi collaborator. The trial was a bitter reminder of the Holocaust years and the lengths to which postwar France went to cover its involvement. The story told in Effroyable jardins, which reads like a parable, depicts the national shame of France through the young narrator's acute embarrassment over his father' avocation as a clown in postwar France. The boy feels humiliated by his father, Andre, until Andre's cousin, Gaston, shares with him Andre's impetus for the unusual pastime. In 1943, as members of the French Resistance, Andre and Gaston blew up the generator in their occupied village; in a twist of irony, the Germans arrested them and two other villagers in a random roundup. Tossed in a deep pit, their captors set an ultimatum that if no one came forward to claim responsibility for the bombing, all the hostages would be killed. The hostages' dilemma was further complicated by the strange behavior of their guard, an odd character who before the war had been a clown.
Effroyable jardins is Quint's first book translated into English; it was published in 2001 as In Our Strange Gardens and was adapted for film in a 2003 production directed by Jean Becker. Lisa Nesselson, a reviewer for Daily Variety, described the story as "a solid, old-fashioned and salutary tale of decency and courage in wartime." Richard Lourie in World and I described In Our Strange Gardens as "a book that can be read in an hour and remembered for a lifetime." Some reviewers, such as Michael Porter for the New York Times Book Review, felt that the book's "overwrought sentimentality" would be ultimately distracting to the reader. Conversely, Tania Barnes of Library Journal called the story "a complex and savagely humorous account of the nature of war, memory, and the human spirit, betrayed by none of the sentimentality that has plagued so many other attempts to grapple with the same material." In a review for Europe, Peter Gwin stated that "Quint scripts a maze of bittersweet twists that leads the narrator to an epiphany about his family and, ultimately, himself. Yet he never strays into sentimentality. The effect on the reader is not unlike unraveling a small ball of yarn only to find a jewel at its center."
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Booklist, November 15, 2001, Ray Olson, review of In Our Strange Gardens, p. 548.
Daily Variety, March 26, 2003, Lisa Nesselson, review of In Our Strange Gardens, p. 18.
Denver Post, December 30, 2001, Rob Stout, review of In Our Strange Gardens, section DD, p. 3.
Europe, May 2002, Peter Gwin, review of In Our Strange Gardens, pp. 26-33.
Guardian (Manchester, England), July 27, 2002, Jemima Hunt and Alfred Hickling, review of In Our Strange Gardens, p. 24.
Kirkus Reviews, October 1, 2001, review of In Our Strange Gardens, p. 1389.
Library Journal, January 2002, Tania Barnes, review of In Our Strange Gardens, p. 154.
New York Times Book Review, February 17, 2002, Michael Porter, review of In Our Strange Gardens, p. 17.
Publishers Weekly, November 5, 2001, review of In Our Strange Gardens, p.41.
World and I, May 2002, Richard Lourie, review of In Our Strange Gardens, p. 213.
Club des rats de biblio-net,http://www.ratsdebiblio.net/ (November 10, 2004), "Michel Quint."*