Publication Date: August 31, 2005
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Newly translated for this edition.
A young Frenchman, Joseph Timar, travels to Gabon carrying a letter of introduction from an influential uncle. He wants work experience; he wants to see the world. But in the oppressive heat and glare of the equator, Timar doesn't know what to do with himself, and no one seems inclined to help except Adèle, the hotel owner's wife, who takes him to bed one day and rebuffs him the next, leaving him sick with desire. But then, in the course of a single night, Adèle's husband dies and a black servant is shot, and Timar is sure that Adèle is involved. He'll cover for the crime if she'll do what he wants. The fix is in. But Timar can't even begin to imagine how deep.
In Tropic Moon, Simenon, the master of the psychological novel, offers an incomparable picture of degeneracy and corruption in a colonial outpost.
Georges Simenon (1903–1989) was born in Liège, Belgium. He went to work as a reporter at the age of fifteen and in 1923 moved to Paris, where under various pseudonyms he became a highly successful and prolific author of pulp fiction while leading a dazzling social life. In the early 1930s, Simenon emerged as a writer under his own name, gaining renown for his detective stories featuring Inspector Maigret. He also began to write his psychological novels, or romans durs—books in which he displays a sympathetic awareness of the emotional and spiritual pain underlying the routines of daily life. Having written nearly two hundred books under his own name and become the best-selling author in the world, Simenon retired as a novelist in 1973, devoting himself instead to dictating several volumes of memoirs.
Norman Rush was raised in Oakland, California, and graduated from Swarthmore College in 1956. He has been an antiquarian book dealer, a college instructor, and, with his wife Elsa, he lived and worked in Africa from 1978 to 1983. They now reside in Rockland County, New York. His stories have appeared in The New Yorker, The Paris Review, and Best American Short Stories. Whites, a collection of stories, was published in 1986, and his first novel, Mating, the recipient of the National Book Award, was published in 1991. Mortals is his second novel. A new novel, Subtle Bodies, will be published in 2013.
Marc Romano is a writer living in New York City. He has translated two other novels by Georges Simenon, both published by New York Review Books: Dirty Snow (with Louise Varèse) and Three Bedrooms in Manhattan (with Lawrence G. Blochman).
“Attention should be paid to the New York Review of Books' continuing reissues of Georges Simenon. Simenon was legendary both for his literary skill–four or five books every year for 40 years–and his sexual capacity, at least to hear him tell it. What we can speak of with some certainty are the novels, which are tough, rigorously unsentimental and full of rage, duplicity and, occasionally, justice. Simenon's tone and dispassionate examination of humanity was echoed by Patricia Highsmith, who dispensed with the justice. So far, the Review has published Tropic Moon, The Man Who Watched Trains Go By, Red Lights, Dirty Snow and Three Bedrooms in Manhattan; The Strangers in the House comes out in November. Try one, and you'll want to read more.”
— The Palm Beach Post
"These three roman durs, and the ones that will follow them, including the insouciantly gruesome The Man Who Watched the Trains Go By, another tale of a husband on the run, and Tropic Moon, a frightening study of lust and violence in the Belgian Congo, are superb and polished works of art masquerading as pulp fiction."
— John Banville, The New Republic
“A sleek, feverish read, perfect for a summer afternoon indoors, all the windows open wide and the fans on high.” —Open Letters Monthly