He has already been compared to literary heavyweights like Raymond Chandler and Albert Camus, and 27-year-old Jérémie Guez is only getting started. The French noir writer has written a new novel, Eyes Full of Empty, and it’s his first book translated into English, the latest project of Los Angeles’s own fast-rising publishing house, Unnamed Press.
The story centers on a private detective in Paris, the son of an Algerian immigrant, who straddles the worlds of Paris’s educated elite and the city’s sketchy immigrant underclass. Guez says the double identity comes from his own youth, in which he mingled with both PhDs and drug dealers. The author’s dark and cutting prose has drawn lots of interest, including from Los Angeles’s own high priest of noir, James Ellroy. At a recent book launch, Ellroy (after revealing, among other things, a surprise kinship between himself and Guez) called the book “stolid and extremely stylized.” He continued, “Guez writes with a pen dipped in acid. This book is an admixture, chemically, of napalm, the AIDS virus, and crack cocaine.” High praise from the high priest.