Set in Cuba's Sierra Maestra in the 1950s, in the days leading up to the Revolution--Manchette's unfinished masterpiece with a fearless female protagonist.
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.
About the Author
Jean-Patrick Manchette (1942-1995) was a genre-redefining French crime novelist, screenwriter, critic, and translator. Throughout the 1960s Manchette supported himself with various jobs writing television scripts, screenplays, young-adult books, and film novelizations. In 1971 he published his first novel, a collaboration with Jean-Pierre Bastid, and went on to produce ten subsequent works over the course of the next two decades and establishing a new genre of French novel, the néo-polar (distinguished from traditional detective novel, or polar, by its political engagement and social radicalism). NYRB Classics also publishes Manchette's Fatale and The Mad and the Bad.
Donald Nicholson-Smith was born in Manchester, England and is a longtime resident of New York City. For NYRB Classics he has translated Manchette's Fatale and The Mad and the Bad and Jean-Paul Clebert's Paris Vagabond, and for NYR Comics he has translated Yvan Alagbé's Yellow Negroes and Other Imaginary Creatures and Nicole Claveloux's The Green Hand and Other Stories.
Doug Headline is the son of Jean-Patrick Manchette. For over three decades, he has been active as a journalist, director, and screenwriter while also writing, translating, and publishing comics. In collaboration with the artist Max Cabanes, he has adapted in graphic-novel format three of Manchette’s novels, Ivory Pearl, Fatale, and Nada, and is at work on a fourth.
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 Times, Vice, the London Review of Books, and many other publications.
"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." —Publishers Weekly
“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.” —Kirkus Reviews
“His 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: hHis 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 déetournement 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