“I first met Siobhan in 1988 when I was running the Freedom-to-Write Program for PEN American Centre and she was running the International Writers-in-Prison Committee for International PEN in London. Among other things, she kept PEN’s ‘census’ of imprisoned writers on whose behalf members ran campaigns. In those days before the end of the Cold War, there were many hundreds of such writers. I enjoyed our long-distance relationship, and sensed that for various reasons Siobhan was restless for change and challenge, and when I moved on from PEN to Human Rights Watch in 1990, I suggested she move to the U.S. to take over my job, and the switch was made. She was a terrific success in her seven years here, and made many friends who are among the many grieving today. Back in England, she did children’s rights work, edited a book of prison writing, and started writing her own fiction. I read her first book, A Swift Pure Cry, last year. Though it was written for young adults, I thought it was a gem that deserved a wider audience. Perhaps because she was writing against time, given her diagnosis, she was extraordinarily prolific in the last few years, publishing The London Eye Mystery in June and having finished two more novels with a fifth underway at the time of her death.”Siobhan Dowd, 1960-2007, RIP.
“Burke shows again that he’s not just a comic genius, but also a fine dramatic writer and storyteller.” – Booklist. “Prose both scabrous and poetic.” – Publishers Weekly. “Proust meets Chandler over a pint of Guinness.” – Spectator. “Among the most memorable books of the year, of any genre.” – Sunday Times. “A hardboiled delight.” – Guardian. “Imagine Donald Westlake and Richard Stark collaborating on a screwball noir.” – Kirkus Reviews. “A cross between Raymond Chandler and Flann O’Brien.” – John Banville.
Friday, August 24, 2007
Siobhan Dowd RIP
A very sad day, people – today we learned that Siobhan Dowd (right), the author of A Swift Pure Cry and The London Eye Mystery, died on Tuesday after a long struggle with breast cancer. The news came as something of a shock, as we only knew her as a warm, bubbly and funny email buddy, and while she mentioned ‘a touch of exhaustion’ in the wake of the publication of The London Eye Mystery – the novel which had The Times tipping her as a ‘future literary lion’ – she never once complained of illness. Gara LaMarche knew her much, much better than we, to wit: