“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.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

The Gospel According To Genre

There was a good piece in Publishers Weekly titled ‘Breaking the Wall’, in which a variety of crime writers discuss what Michael Connelly describes as the ‘membrane’ (as opposed to ‘wall’) between genre and literary fiction. For my money, Tana French (right) nails it to the wall:
“When you’re working to make a sentence as perfect as it can be,” says French, “or to make a character real and vivid and three-dimensional, how and whether you do that isn’t dependent on where the book will be shelved.”
  Well said, that woman. Mind you, Tana is one of those writers for whom style appears to be every bit as important as plot or character. Could it be a coincidence that IN THE WOODS and THE LIKENESS are award-winning best-sellers? Erm, probably not …
  It’s also true that Ireland has its fair share of ‘literary crime fiction’: John Banville’s THE BOOK OF EVIDENCE and THE UNTOUCHABLE, Flann O’Brien’s THE THIRD POLICEMAN, Pat McCabe’s THE BUTCHER BOY, Eoin McNamee’s RESURRECTION MAN (and others), Brian Moore’s THE COLOUR OF BLOOD (and others), Liam O’Flaherty’s THE INFORMER and THE ASSASSIN, David Park’s THE TRUTH COMMISSIONER, Kevin Power’s BAD DAY IN BLACKROCK, Gerard Donovan’s JULIUS WINSOME, Edna O’Brien’s IN THE FOREST (and others) … It’s a long and noble tradition.
  Okay, your turn. Your favourite ‘literary crime fiction’ is ...