Daniel Pennac's Saga Malaussène

I'm reading Daniel Pennac's "Monsieur Malaussène" and wondering why few readerly friends know about his comic thrillers. He's French, but the English translations are seamless (me, read French? au contraire) and the novels are genius. Why doesn't he have a wider readership in the States?

God knows Pennac doesn't need any help from me, but I have to share because nobody should miss out.

The Malaussène novels are set in in the Belleville quarter of Paris and center around a hired scapegoat named Benjamin Malaussène ("ma-law-seen," I think). Various businesses hire him to take the fall for company mistakes, irregularities, bad decisions and so on. He has (very) peculiar siblings and assorted other close relatives, friends and neighbors. Odd jobs, oddballs, oddbodies... What could go wrong? Complications ensue. (As they do.)

The novels are by turns heart-stopping, heart-breaking, touching and funny. The characters are weird and yet completely believable -- even endearing.

The Belleville quintet: "The Fairy Gunmother," "The Scapegoat," "Write to Kill," "Passion Fruit" and "Monsieur Malaussène."

You can dive in for more detailed descriptions here, where you'll also find the following paragraph describing the author:
Daniel Pennac was born in Casablanca in 1944 in a French military family, and was raised in Africa and South-East Asia. He eventually became a French Literature teacher in Nice, in the South of France, and began writing children's books with "Cabot Caboche," published in 1982. The idea to write thrillers came to him during a trip to Brazil. His first Malaussène novel came out in 1985. Since then, Pennac has become a best-selling author and French literary phenomenon.
If your library doesn't have Pennac's novels, ask if they'll order a set. Or consult your favorite independent bookseller. Enjoy.


  1. Now you've got me. Sounds like something I would love. I wonder if our library has his books. I got them to order the Cara Black mysteries.

  2. Thanks for commenting, Sue. Hope you'll let me know how you like him.