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Daniel Pennac was born into a Corsican family in 1944; he worked as a teacher for 25 years before becoming a best-selling novelist and author of some very cool books, including

I'm told that Ian Monk's translations are quite good; I'd recommend the original version though, since Pennac has an incredible command of the language and can scratch French sentences behind the ears until they melt in his hands.

The plots: you can say that Pennac writes mystery stories, and actually in the first pages of every book there is a murder; this is just an excuse to take the reader for a funny, surreal ride along the streets of Belleville, a district of Paris. Don't try to guess who is the culprit: you get plenty of clues from the beginning, but it's better to watch the various cops (good and corrupt) try to find ther way to the solution, like in a good Columbo episode. In the last pages you'll see several seemingly unrelated plot lines coming neatly together with a satisfying "click".

The characters: I'm not saying that they are believable; I only wish that they were my friends and relatives. They are quirky and funny and deep, and they care for each other; the reader is simply peering on their lives over Pennac's shoulder.

The storytelling: Pennac is master of this field, often neglected by many contemporary writers. You turn the pages not only because you want to know how the story ends, but also because it feels good to go on reading. Other authors that can weave the same magic are J.K.Rowling and Terry Pratchett.

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