With J’irai cracher sur vos tombes (1946), the story of ruthless vengeance linked to the racism of a certain ‘white America’, the publisher Jean d’Halluin was looking for a scandal and a bestseller.
But the motivations of Vian/Sullivan, official ‘translator’ and covert author, are diverse: a challenge, a joke, entertainment more than a literary work, the desire to try out the ‘noir’ novel – a genre that was fashionable but not greatly respected – and the desire to write about the USA in its death throes…
A musician in the public eye and a coming writer, Vian wrote J’irai cracher sur vos tombes in just 15 days.
Critics and readers paid little attention to the book at first.
Yet in February 1947, Daniel Parker and his ‘Cartel for Social and Moral Action’ filed charges against the book (law of July 1939).
The reactions were as multiple as the sales, especially when a man killed his girlfriend in a hotel room and left a copy of J’irai cracher… lying next to the body.
They say the book sold 500,000 copies!