Maps & Graphs

Mediterranean Noir

This map, built on Tableau, displays the main locations represented in a corpus of novels published since 1942 that can be ascribed to the Mediterranean strand of contemporary European crime fiction.
Several different criteria were adopted to build the map.

  • We started with collecting the names evoked by Jean-Claude Izzo, Sandro Ferri, Petros Markaris, and Massimo Carlotto in different articles about the subject. As a consequence, the dataset includes the names of several authors who worked well before the advent of Mediterranean Noir meant as a critical and promotional label, which can be dated approximately around the publication of Jean-Claude Izzo’s Marseille trilogy (1995-98). This is, for example, the case of as many important forerunners of the contemporary Mediterranean vein of European noir as Leonardo Sciascia, Manuel Vázquez Montalbán and, most notably, Albert Camus, whose experience as a transplanted writer is widely assumed as a characteristic feature of the Mediterranean identity. All of these authors are regularly cited by contemporary Mediterranean noir writers as key sources of inspiration.
  • A few more authors or works often evoked in these sources as key inspirations have not been included in the map to avoid unnecessary confusion. Certain omissions, however, are highly debatable, and might be reconsidered in the next future. The inclusion of such masters of European noir as Georges Simenon, regularly cited by Mediterranean noir writers as the single most crucial source of inspiration, and Jean-Patrick Manchette, the initiator of the neo-noir wave of French crime fiction, would clearly put Paris on the routes of Mediterranean noir. Similar doubts are raised by the omission of the American hard-boiled novelists, Dashiell Hammett, Raymond Chandler or James Cain, who are often frequently mentioned as major models. The transcultural dialogue of the Mediterranean Noir with both European and extra-European models is then certainly wider than this map is showing at present–in terms non only of space, but also time, given that, following Izzo, we could even choose to include Sophocle’s Oedipus Rex as the earliest example of detective fiction in the history of European literature.
  • The criterion of the author’s self-affiliation to the generic label of Mediterranean noir as well as the use of this lebel in the critical discourse about crime fiction, has led to the inclusion of a small but highly significant corpus or works authored by (mainly) English-speaking or “expat” writers; for example, Donna Leon and Veit Heinichen.
  • More names have been added by exploring the catalogues of minor publishers who have book series devoted to different variants of Mediterranean Noir. This allowed us to find an interesting number of titles stemming from very local initiatives and published in various minor towns on the Mediterranean seashores (particularly Nice and the Corsican towns).
  • The general criteria for localizing the places has been to choose the first book of a series (be it a book series or a narrative series). This generates an obvious limitation with regard to the quantitative measuring of the number of books registered per author. Consequently, users are adverted that the number of books/authors ratio in the accompanying graph is only significant in relation to DETECt overall research program. Of course the graph’s significance and quantitative reliability will increase in time as more data will be progressively added to the dataset.
  • Another important limitation is due to the Consortium’s lack of knowledge in most of the South- and East-Mediterranean languages, such as the different varieties of Slavic and Arabic languages, which determine more unfortunate omissions. While we managed to find al least a few reliable metadata for works first published in Algeria, Israel and Turkey, we were unable to find usable information for works published in Egypt, Serbia, Croatia and other Balkan countries.
  • Even with these limitations, the map proves to be a useful tool to explore the history of Mediterranean Noir as a literary and editorial genre. An interesting finding that can be brought up as an example of the kind of supplemental knowledge that can be retrieved using this tool is the realization of the unexpected position occupied by the work of English-writing authors like Michael Dibdin and Donna Leon in the development of a Mediterranean strand of fiction even before the start of a real industrial strategy based on that very label, which came into being only in parallel with the publishing of Izzo’s trilogy.