“Prose both scabrous and poetic.” – Publishers Weekly. “Proust meets Chandler over a pint of Guinness.” – Spectator. “A sheer pleasure.” – Tana French. “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. “The effortless cool of Elmore Leonard at his peak.” – Ray Banks. “A fine writer at the top of his game.” – Lee Child.

Monday, May 4, 2009

Irish Crime Writers: Yankee Doodling Dandies?

The latest in a series of interviews TV3’s Ireland AM are running to support the forthcoming Irish Book Awards Crime Fiction gong is one with a difference, as it features experts in Irish crime fic (a small but perfectly formed fraternity, it has to be said) Professor Ian Ross and Michael Gallagher (right, holding up some chancer’s humble offering) giving their opinion on two of the shortlisted novels, Brian McGilloway’s GALLOWS LANE and Alex Barclay’s BLOOD RUNS COLD. Professor Ross of Trinity College is contributing a general overview-style piece to the work-in-progress that is GREEN STREETS, a collection of essays about Irish crime writing in the 21st Century, about more of which anon, while Michael Gallagher is the near-legendary proprietor of Murder Ink on Dawson Street, Dublin, a veritable Aladdin’s cave for the crime fic fan, and a man whose support of the Irish crime-writing brethren and sisthren is Atlas-like.
  Intriguingly, Michael makes the point in the vid below that 90% of Irish crime readers, if they realise a book is set in Ireland, aren’t interested, and that most of the books he stocks in Murder Ink are by U.S. writers. John Connolly, of course, sets his novels exclusively in the States, while the aforementioned BLOOD RUNS COLD is set in Colorado, as is Adrian McKinty’s latest offering, FIFTY GRAND, while Ken Bruen’s recent novels – AMERICAN SKIN, ONCE WERE COPS, BUST and THE MAX, and the forthcoming collaboration with Reed Farrel Coleman, TOWER – are set in the U.S. too.
  Of course, the majority of Irish crime writers (declaration of interest: your humble host included) tend to take the American hard-boiled novel for their stylistic cues, with the transmogrification of Irish society over the last decade making the transplant an all-too-believable one. But it’s a brave move to take on the Americans on their own turf, and kudos to all concerned. It’d be a huge pity, though, if Irish readers were to ignore the likes of Gene Kerrigan, Declan Hughes, Arlene Hunt, Tana French, Brian McGilloway, Colin Bateman, Stuart Neville, Alan Glynn (who set his debut novel in New York, incidentally), Garbhan Downey, et al, simply because their very fine novels were set in Ireland, and especially if it’s because of some kind of inferiority complex. And even if it was, the very fact that Connolly, Hughes, French and Bruen are hugely popular Stateside should tip them off that Irish scribes writing about Irish crimes are just as valid as American authors on American crimes, particular as Connolly and Bruen are bending over backwards to big up their compatriots.
  Hopefully the Ireland AM Crime Fiction Award will alert Irish readers to the quality of indigenous crime writing. Meanwhile, Professor Ian Ross and Michael Gallagher pronounce on Brian McGilloway and Alex Barclay here. Roll it there, Collette …

2 comments:

Dana King said...

Maybe it's just an example of "the grass is always greener" syndrome. I read quite a bit of Irish crime fiction, and the Irish setting is among the attractions. I'm developing an image of Ireland to complement the travel brochures/Troubles stereotypes we tend to get here in America.

Lest anyone think this leaves me out of the John Connolly/Adrian McKinty camps, not so fast. I'm a stylist in my reading habits. What has drawn me most to Irish crime fiction is the wonderful ways the best Irish writers find to use the same 600,000 or so words we're all familiar with.

(This includes our humble Grand Vizeer. The Big O is a don't miss read, for those who haven't found it yet.

Declan Burke said...

Ta for the big-up, Dana - much appreciated, squire.

600,000 words? Man, I don't know if I know 6,000 ...

Cheers, Dec