That we have, and one consequence is DOWN THESE GREEN STREETS: IRISH CRIME WRITING IN THE 21st CENTURY, which will be published by Liberties Press in April. Quoth the blurb elves:
A fantastically detailed book consisting of essays, interviews and short fiction regarding Irish crime writing in the 21st century. Contributors include distinguished crime writers such as John Connolly, John Banville, Tana French and Alex Barclay. This book suggests crime fiction is now the most relevant and valid form of writing that can deal with modern Ireland in terms of the post-‘Troubles’ landscape and post-Celtic Tiger economic boom. The book takes a chapter-by-chapter approach, with each chapter and author discussing a different facet of Irish crime writing; for example, Declan Hughes discusses the influence of American culture on Irish crime writing and Tana French reflects on crime fiction and the post-Celtic Tiger Irish identity.The collection is something of a Who’s Who of contemporary Irish crime fiction, with contributions (in order of appearance) from John Connolly, Ruth Dudley Edwards, Kevin McCarthy, Cora Harrison, Adrian McKinty, Cormac Millar, Alan Glynn, Eoin McNamee, Jane Casey, Declan Hughes, Alex Barclay, Colin Bateman, Paul Charles, Niamh O’Connor, Gerard Brennan, Ingrid Black, John Banville, Stuart Neville, Gene Kerrigan, Gerry O’Carroll, Arlene Hunt, Andrew Nugent, Brian McGilloway, Neville Thompson, Tana French and Ken Bruen. It also features a foreword by Michael Connelly, an introduction by Professor Ian Ross of Trinity College, an appreciation of crime narratives in theatre and film by Sara Keating and Tara Brady, respectively, and an afterword by Fintan O’Toole.
Given the constraints of space, and the relatively slow pace of publishing and the much more rapid rate at which Irish crime writers are appearing, the collection can’t claim to be comprehensive. As editor, I’d have liked to have included writers such as Garbhan Downey, Ava McCarthy, Bob Burke and Rob Kitchin. Meanwhile, debut novels from Brian O’Connor, Casey Hill, Gerard O’Donovan, William Ryan and Conor Fitzgerald have only appeared in the last nine months or so.
That said, GREEN STREETS is as comprehensive and contemporary as was possible given the constraints mentioned, and I’ll be delighted to see it land on the shelf next month. Relieved, I think, more than anything else, not least because there were times when it seemed as if the collection would never see the light of day, but very proud too. Although I should say, I feel proud on behalf of the writers involved rather than for myself, because I have no sense of ‘ownership’ of the book, in the way I would if the book was a novel of mine. The collection belongs to the contributors, who chose their own speciality topic, or preference, and I hope that the collection will go some way to ensuring that a body of very fine writers finally get the kind of credit here in Ireland that they already enjoy in the US, the UK, and further afield.
Ireland is a pretty small place, it’s true, but even at that there’s no community of Irish crime writers per se, no single cohesive theme running through the body of work, no regular meetings of like-minded folk (or if there is, they’re not telling me about it). What I hope the book marks, other than the obvious development of a distinct body of Irish crime fiction, is the sheer diversity of styles, themes and tones: historical fiction, high-concept thrillers, police procedurals, private eyes, comedy capers, gritty noir, post-modern investigation, paranoid conspiracy, serial killers, post-‘Troubles’ novels, and more. Indeed, the diversity is such that some of the writers have no interest at all in rooting their novels in Ireland.
So there it is: DOWN THESE GREEN STREETS: IRISH CRIME WRITING IN THE 21st CENTURY. If there are any bloggers and / or reviewers out there interested in receiving an ARC, just drop me a line at the usual address or leave a message in the comment box, with the appropriate contact details. And a céad míle fáilte, aka a hundred thousand welcomes, to you all from CAP Towers on St Patrick’s Day …