What is Noir?: Background information when reading The Lola Quartet

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The Lola Quartet

by Emily St. John Mandel

The Lola Quartet
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  • First Published:
    May 2012, 288 pages
    Paperback:
    Apr 2013, 288 pages

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Book Reviewed by:
Morgan Macgregor

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About this Book

Beyond the Book:
What is Noir?

Emily St. John Mandel's writing includes essences of old-fashioned noir. But what is noir? "Roman noir" is a French expression that literally translates as "black novel." Historically, the term was used to describe Gothic novels set in the UK, however, its contemporary usage refers to an American invention - the hardboiled thriller. Generally, "hardboiled" means that the novel includes an element of crime, usually with a detective at the center of the action. The style was introduced in the 1920s by authors such as Carroll John Daly and was made widely popular in the late 1930s by Raymond Chandler.

Noir book jacket The label "noir" or "hardboiled" is closely related to the evolution of "pulp-fiction" in America, initially meant to describe a series of stories that would be published in succession by a magazine, or printed in small paperback runs and distributed in weekly installments. The so-called "hardboiled" detective would not only solve crimes, but also act as hero, frequently saving ...

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