“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, November 26, 2010

The Irish Book Awards: DARK TIMES Never Seemed So Good

A ray of light in these dark times: Gene Kerrigan’s DARK TIMES IN THE CITY deservedly won Best Crime Novel at the Irish Book Awards last night. The shortlist was, as I’ve mentioned before, missing such luminaries as John Connolly, Ken Bruen, Arlene Hunt and Alan Glynn, but then last year was a very strong year indeed for Irish crime writing, and the very strong shortlist did include Tana French, Declan Hughes, Alex Barclay, Stuart Neville and Jane Casey. All of which should give Gene an extra fillip as he plonks his award on the mantelpiece. Mind you, Gene being an unusually modest man, there’s every chance said gong will be put away out of sight, lest anyone remark upon it and force Gene to admit that, yes, he’s actually a very fine writer indeed. Hearty congratulations to the man, and commiserations to all the runners-up …
  I reviewed DARK TIMES almost two years ago now, and had this, among other things, to say:
“Cruelly authentic, the novel refuses the simplistic pieties of either the genre’s form or society’s wishful thinking. DARK TIMES IN THE CITY is a very fine crime novel, but it’s also one of the very few novels of any stripe to hold up a mirror to the dark heart of modern Ireland’s boom-and-bust.”
  For the rest, clickety-click here
  Elsewhere, by which I mean my own little world, it’s been a busy, funny and often odd week or so. Yesterday, my former agent, who still holds some of the European rights to THE BIG O, rang to say that the contracts for the Italian version of said tome had arrived, and was I available to sign on the dotted line? Erm, yes, please. The money involved, of course, would hardly stretch to cover some decent lattes and a plate of spag bol, but at this stage, money is not the point. It’ll be fantastic to see THE BIG O in Italian, especially as I have a particular fondness for the country, and it also means that I’ll have been translated into three languages, as EIGHTBALL BOOGIE was published in Holland some years ago, under the title SPEEDBALL. The third language I’ve been translated into, as any of my editors will attest, is English.
  So that was nice. If you have any Italian friends who might enjoy a crime-comedy romp featuring a one-eyed Siberian wolf called Anna, feel free to give them a heads-up.
  Meanwhile, Paul D. Brazill did me proud with a review of the sequel to THE BIG O over at his interweb lair, aka You Would Say That, Wouldn’t You? To wit:
“CRIME ALWAYS PAYS is the follow up to Burke’s splendid THE BIG O and it almost actually IS that oxymoron ‘a screwball noir’. There’s a LOT going on, and it does take a bit to get used to the frantic pace, but it’s a satisfying read that still makes you want more. CRIME ALWAYS PAYS: A SCREWBALL NOIR is a cracking, fast paced, clever and very droll road movie with a top drawer cast - especially Sleeps!” - Paul D. Brazill
  Which, again, is very nice, and thank you kindly, sir. Funnily enough, Sleeps is probably my favourite character from CRIME ALWAYS PAYS, and at one point I was even thinking of calling the book SLEEPS THE HERO. Sadly, for everyone already fumbling for their credit cards in their rush to secure a copy, the book is only available as an e-book, or as a download to your PC, and will set you back a whopping $1.99. If you’re still determined to read it, however, all the details can be found here
  Finally - and this may cause Ms Witch to prick up her ears, if no one else - I had something of an unusual request last week. In essence, it was from a publisher of children’s books, wondering if I’d like to meet to discuss the possibility of my writing a book for young adults. Now, writing a book for kids has been something that’s been flickering on the very edge of my radar ever since the Princess Lilyput arrived, but I’ve never spent any time thinking seriously about it. Right now, I can’t think of anything else. The idea I hatched has gone forward for consideration, but already I think that I’m going to write the story no matter what the decision is, because I’m entirely enthralled by it. For one thing, it’ll be a massive challenge to write a whole novel without recourse to foul language; for another, it’ll be an equally massive challenge to try to write something that will capture a young reader’s imagination. I have no faith in my ability to achieve either, but I like the idea of trying. Plus, given the rate at which I tend to write and get published, two-year-old Lily should be just the right age to identify with the 13-year-old heroine when the book finally appears. Or, as is far more likely, sneer at it with a carefully honed teenage disaffection …