“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.

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Emerald Noir: Val McDermid Speaks

The doyenne of British crime fiction, Val McDermid (right), turns her steely gaze on the Irish crime novel next Tuesday, March 8th, in a BBC radio programme entitled ‘Emerald Noir: The Rise of Irish Crime Fiction’. Quoth the BBC blurb elves:
Peace in Northern Ireland and the economic boom and bust in Southern Ireland have led to a recent rise in crime fiction.
  Val McDermid looks at the way real life violence has been dealt with in the work of authors including Tana French, Eoin McNamee, Ruth Dudley Edwards, Stuart Neville and Declan Hughes. We meet David Torrans - whose bookstore in Belfast has been fictionalised in Colin Bateman’s series of crime novels. Declan Burke - author of the blog Crime Always Pays - takes us on a tour of Dublin locations featured in crime novels from the modern Docklands offices which inspired Alan Glynn’s novel Winterland to the hotels and shops of 1950s Dublin featured in the crime fiction of Booker winner John Banville - who writes under the name Benjamin Black.
  Val asks whether the Noir novel is a protestant art form and hears how writers are trying to find new villains in a place where violence has - until recently - been part of everyday life.
  Producer: Robyn Read.
  Tuesday, 11:30 on BBC Radio 4
  Nice. It’s entirely serendipitous that the programme airs in advance of the publication next month of DOWN THESE GREEN STREETS: IRISH CRIME WRITING IN THE 21st CENTURY, edited by one Declan Burke (Liberties Press), a collection of essays, interviews and short stories by Irish crime writers which includes all the names mentioned above, and also John Connolly, Ken Bruen, Arlene Hunt, Alex Barclay, Adrian McKinty, Gene Kerrigan, Jane Casey, and many more. GREEN STREETS will be published next month, and will be the subject of a New York University symposium on the rise of the Irish crime novel at the end of April, more of which anon.
  Finally, for the day that’s in it, here’s a rather fine review by David Park in the Irish Times of Adrian McKinty’s new offering, FALLING GLASS. The gist runs thusly:
McKinty is a streetwise, energetic gunslinger of a writer, firing off volleys of sassy dialogue and explosive action that always delivers what it has promised the reader. The story is skilfully constructed, and the pace is always full throttle forwards. There is one violent scene in Mexico involving a chainsaw that is definitely not for the squeamish, but it would be unfair to think of the author as someone exclusively reliant on external action. There is, for example, an interesting psychological exploration of Killian’s re-embracing of his half-forgotten roots and the cultural values of the Traveller community. Even the dark figure of Markov, the Russian hitman, gets layered and lightened with some psychological subtleties that are the product of his relationship with his partner, Marina, and experiences of the war in Chechnya that continue to haunt him.
  For the full review, clickety-click here

5 comments:

seana said...

Well, now that the BBC has said it, maybe the rise of Irish crime fiction will finally be official. In any case, you guys really are on a roll, aren't you?

I just know I'm going to know too much about Falling Glass by the time I read it...

Declan Burke said...

Hi Seana - The general rule of thumb about trends is that once they're official, they're over.

The great thing (for me) about Irish crime writing, though, is how diverse it is. It's nothing like a homogenous style or tone or mood or even subject matter - John Connolly, as you know, doesn't even set his novels in Ireland. The same goes for Alex Barclay, and (for the most part) Adrian McKinty.

Anyway, it's that diversity that I think tells against Irish crime writing as a grouping, or sub-genre, and why I think it'll never gain the same traction as, say, Scandinavian crime fiction.

I don't know that that's a bad thing, either.

Cheers, Dec

seana said...

Well, I don't care if it becomes a movement either, really, but it's a very interesting and in my opinion underreported phenomenon.

And really, I guess, I do get tired of that tattooed girl getting all the play when it comes to crime fiction from outside the U.S..

Nigel Martin said...

Dec

Hope your panel went well on sat afternoon at DBFest.

I'm looking forward to the Radio4 show on Emerald noir tomorrow. As a Religion teacher myself I'm keen to hear the argument that the crime genre is a protestant artform.

I hadn't heard that on before..

Nigel

Declan Burke said...

Hi Nigel - To be fair, the programme blurb says 'protestant' - with a small 'p'. As in, possibly, 'protest-ant', as opposed to 'Protestant'.

Mind you, I've heard Eoin McNamee argue (convincingly) that noir is actually a Calvinist form, so anything's possible.

Cheers, Dec