Quais du Polar is France´s biggest festival of crime fiction, attracting tens of thousands of readers every year. The festival is different from many others in the sense that it is a book-selling event on a large scale, and the panels and on-stage interviews with the authors are just the icing on the cake. The main place is the market on the ground floor at the Palace de Commerce, where all major bookstores in Lyon have their own space, dividing between them the 100 authors that are invited to the festival. Luckily I don´t read French because if I did I’d have had to fit a whole palace’s worth of crime fiction books into my luggage back to Iceland!
It was a great honour for me to be invited to the Quais du Polar Festival. My book Snare was just out in French translation (Piégée) the week before and as an unknown author in France I thought that I would just sit patiently beside my countrymen Arnaldur Indriðason and Ragnar Jónasson and watch them sign books for the duration of the festival. It did not turn out that way. There were lines for me too as there were for many of the other one hundred authors, readers not only wanting signatures but maybe also a chat, selfies with the authors or answers to their questions. This was a very nice surprise for me and I quickly learned that French people take their reading very seriously and are eager to discover new authors and books.
My heart is still warm after the very friendly and hospitable reception in Lyon. Besides the festival the city is amazing, the food an absolute adventure but most of all, the wonderful French readers are what makes the Quais du Polar Festival such a unique experience.
Many thanks to Lilja for sharing her experience of this event. Lilja’s thriller Snare is currently being translated by Quentin Bates and will be published in English in Autumn 2017 by Orenda books and the sequel will follow in 2018.