Additional Book Information
Series: NYRB Classics
Publication Date: May 1, 2018
by Jean-Patrick Manchette, translated from the French by Donald Nicholson-Smith, introduction by Doug Headline, with an afterword by Gary Indiana
An NYRB Classics Original
Out of the wreckage of World War II swaggers Ivory Pearl, so named (rhymes with girl) by some British soldiers who made her their mascot, a mere kid, orphaned, survivor of God knows what, but fluent in French, English, smoking, and drinking. In Berlin, Ivy meets Samuel Farakhan, a rich closeted intelligence officer. Farakhan proposes to adopt her and help her to become the photographer she wants to be; his relationship to her will provide a certain cover for him. And she is an asset. The deal is struck...
1956: Ivy has seen every conflict the postwar world has on offer, from Vietnam to East Berlin, and has published her photographs in slick periodicals, but she is sick to death of death and bored with life and love. It’s time for a break. Ivy heads to Cuba, the Sierra Maestra.
History, however, doesn’t take vacations.
Ivory Pearl was Jean-Patrick Manchette’s last book, representing a new turn in his writing. It was to be the first of a series of ambitious historical thrillers about the “wrong times” we live in. Though left unfinished when Manchette died, the book, whose full plot has been filled in here from the author’s notes, is a masterpiece of bold suspense and black comedy: chilling, caustic, and perfectly choreographed.
Ivory Pearl is the kind of bold female that Virginia of Black Wings Has My Angel or my own Perdita Durango might have become had their lives taken a different turn. Manchette sets Ivory Pearl loose in perilous 1950s Cuba and smartly allows her to survive, a master stroke by a daring, innovative writer.
The opening chapter in particular is as sharp and brutal as anything Manchette wrote, including his masterpiece, The Prone Gunman. The obsessive details...might make even Ian Fleming feel uninformed...Noir fans won’t want to miss this one.
In his final, unfinished novel, available for the first time in English, Manchette departs from crime fiction—but not extreme violence—to deliver a saga of high adventure...Thanks to New York Review Books' translations, the English-speaking world has a generous sampling of [Manchette’s] unique fiction to enjoy. Idiosyncratic French novelist Manchette...went out in style. Short but sprawling, the novel packs a mean punch.
[Manchette’s] writing is lean and relentless.
—David L. Ulin, Los Angeles Times
In France, which long ago embraced American crime fiction, thrillers are referred to as polars. And in France the godfather and wizard of polars is Jean-Patrick Manchette.... [H]e’s a massive figure.... There is gristle here, there is bone.
—The Boston Globe
Manchette is legend among all of the crime writers I know, and with good reason: His novels never fail to stun and thrill from page one.
—Duane Swierczynski, author of Expiration Date
Manchette called crime novels ‘the great moral literature of our time.’ Manchette pushes the Situationist strategy of derive and détournement to the point of comic absurdity, throwing a wrench into the workings of his main characters’ lives and gleefully recording the anarchy that results.
—Jennifer Howard, Boston Review