NYRB: Jean-Patrick Manchette's "The N'Gustro Affair"

September 23, 2021, 7:30 PM


Join us for a panel discussion featuring Gary Indiana, Donald Nicholson-Smith, Luc Sante, and Alyson Waters, as we celebrate the publication of "The N'Gustro Affair," by genre-redefining French crime novelist Jean-Patrick Manchette. This program is presented in partnership with our friends at New York Review Books and Albertine Bookstore, and it will take place on Zoom. Register here:

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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.

Gary Indiana is a critic and novelist. His most recent books include I Can Give You Anything But Love, a memoir, and Tiny Fish That Only Want to Kiss, a collection of short fiction. His writing has appeared in New York magazine, The New York TimesVice, the London Review of Books, and many other publications.

Luc Sante's books include Low LifeKill All Your DarlingsThe Other Paris, and Maybe the People Would Be the Times. He teaches at Bard.

Donald Nicholson-Smith’s translations of noir fiction include Jean-Patrick Manchette’s Three to Kill; Thierry Jonquet’s Mygale (a.k.a. Tarantula); and (with Alyson Waters) Yasmina Khadra’s Cousin K. He has also translated works by Paco Ignacio Taibo II, Henri Lefebvre, Raoul Vaneigem, Antonin Artaud, Jean Laplanche, Guillaume Apollinaire, and Guy Debord. 

Alyson Waters has translated Eric Chevillard’s Prehistoric Times, Jean Giono’s A King Alone, Jean-Patrick Manchette’s No Room at the Morgue. She is currently finishing another Manchette starring private eye Eugène Tarpon. She teaches literary translation at Yale University and is the managing editor of Yale French Studies.