Additional Book Information
Series: NYRB Classics
Publication Date: September 21, 2021
The N'Gustro Affair
by Jean-Patrick Manchette, translated from the French by Donald Nicholson-Smith, introduction by Gary Indiana
An NYRB Classics Original
Mean, arrogant, naive, sadistic on occasion, the young Henri Butron records his life story on tape just before death catches up with him: a death passed off as a suicide by his killers, French secret service agents who need to hush up their role—and Butron’s—in the kidnapping, torture, and murder of a prominent opposition leader from a third-world African nation in the throes of a postcolonial civil war.
The N’Gustro Affair is a thinly veiled retelling of the 1965 abduction and killing of Mehdi Ben Barka, a radical opponent of King Hassan II of Morocco. But this is merely the backdrop to Jean-Patrick Manchette’s first-person portrait (with shades of Jim Thompson’s The Killer Inside Me) of a man who lacks the insight to see himself for what he is: a wannabe nihilist too weak to be even a full-bore fascist.
I believe Jean-Patrick Manchette is one of the greatest writers since Dashiell Hammett. . . . Like Hammett before him, Manchette stands apart, further yet to the left, as extreme and as far as any writer has yet dared to stand.
Manchette’s characters are men and women who have been thoroughly beat down by capitalism and the false promises of democracy. . . . The reader is always aware of larger forces working behind the main plot, molding the individual characters and their relationships to each other. The author does not condemn them any more or less than society does. He merely asks: How the hell did it all come to this?
—Tom Roberge, Los Angeles Review of Books
The publication of another novel by Jean-Patrick Manchette . . . is a reason to rejoice. . . [In The N’Gustro Affair] the muscular prose is vivid (‘Hate is so tiresome,’ one character opines with devastating effect), and the examination of ideology gone rancid is gutting and powerful.
—Sarah Weinman, The New York Times Book Review
This was the first of Manchette's thrillers, but already finds him in fine form. . . A solidly gripping read. If, in part, very raw, The N'Gustro Affair is also bracingly refreshing.
—M.A. Orthofer, The Complete Review
A tight and beautifully put-together novel. . . Stark perfection