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“Cop Lit” Takes Center Stage in France

The Guardian’s Paris correspondent Jason Burke reports on a new publishing phenomenon, where police officers of all stripes are storming the bestseller lists with a variety of novels, graphic novels, memoirs and other types of book formats. Philippe Pichon, the 37-year-old chief superintendent and bestselling poet and novelist, offered his insight into the glut of so-called ‘creative cops.’ “A poet can be a policemen and a policeman can be a poet,” Pichon, chief of a police station with 85 staff, told The Observer last week. “I am an exalted humanist. Every day on the streets I see the true humanity of things, and I recount them in my work.”

Other works range from other personal testimonies and meditations on what it means to be a policeman, a 100-page cartoon series created by a 45-year-old veteran agent in the French equivalent of MI5 that details his missions tracking down Islamic militants in Paris, scores of personal or station blogs, to a rap album by an anonymous ‘brigadier’ posted in the internet. “This is a totally new phenomenon,” said Frederic Ploquin, a crime correspondent and police expert. ‘Before, the only people writing books were retired senior commissioners and your average plod was just a worker or peasant. Now a new generation of police with university degrees and culture are finding ways to express themselves while still serving in the force.”

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