“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 2, 2011

The Genii Are Out Of The Bottle

Referring to the current generation of Irish crime writers as geniuses might seem a little extravagant to the casual observer, and very extravagant indeed to anyone paying attention, although it doesn’t seem extravagant at all to yours truly, mainly because I’m never happier than when mangling the facts to fit a dodgy headline. That said, some of the most interesting voices in crime fiction today come courtesy of an Irish larynx, even if such voices have a distinctively American twang - John Connolly, Alex Barclay, Ken Bruen, Casey Hill, Declan Hughes, Stuart Neville, Adrian McKinty and most recently Eoin Colfer are some of the Irish writers who have set recent novels entirely or in part in the good old US of A, and it’s probably fair to say, all the while generalising wildly, that the Irish crime novel is more influenced by its predecessor from across the Atlantic rather than by similar offerings from across the Irish Sea.
  So it’s appropriate, I suppose, that the first sighting of DOWN THESE GREEN STREETS: IRISH CRIME WRITING IN THE 21st CENTURY should come courtesy of Amazon.com, where said tome is now available for pre-order. GREEN STREETS is a collection of essays, interviews and short stories written by Irish crime writers about the current phenomenon of Irish crime writing, which is rather impressive when you consider that a country with a population not much greater than that of the wider Chicago area has produced a generation of crime writers of the calibre mentioned above, a generation which also includes Colin Bateman, Arlene Hunt, Alan Glynn, Paul Charles, Gene Kerrigan, Brian McGilloway, Eoin McNamee, Cora Harrison, Cormac Millar, Niamh O’Connor, Kevin McCarthy, Jane Casey and Ruth Dudley Edwards, all of whom contribute to GREEN STREETS. More recent additions, who arrived too late to be considered for the book, include Conor Fitzgerald, William Ryan, Ava McCarthy, Rob Kitchin and Brian O’Connor. All told, it’s a hell of a line-up, and that’s even before we get to the maverick outriders, the likes of Twenty Major, Captain Barbelo and Garbhan Downey, who seemed determined to drag the Irish crime novel into a surreal parallel universe-shaped dark alleyway, where conventions of form and formula get the righteous shoeing they deserve.
  I’m biased, of course, but being Irish, and a crime writer, and the editor of DOWN THESE GREEN STREETS, I’m irrationally but inordinately proud of the variety, quality and quantity of very fine Irish crime novels that have appeared in the last number of years. Here’s hoping that GREEN STREETS will help to confirm what the cognoscenti have known for some time, that the Irish crime novel, as Fintan O’Toole writes in the book’s Afterword, “has not merely begun to blossom but has become arguably the nearest thing we have to a realist literature adequate to capturing the nature of contemporary [Irish] society.”
  Incidentally, if you’re likely to be in the Tallaght area of Dublin on this coming Wednesday, May 4th, and you fancy hearing more on the subject of Irish crime writing, Arlene Hunt and yours truly will be doing a Beauty and the Beast turn on that very subject, at Tallaght Library at 7pm. For all the details, clickety-click here …
  Elsewhere, Liberties Press - or ‘the rebel Liberties’, as I like to call them, given that they bucked the trend and made the decision to publish GREEN STREETS - are currently featuring an interview with yours truly over at their blog, where they quiz me on crime writing in general, and my own humble offerings in particular. If you’re interested, clickety-click here
  Finally, an interview of a rather less genteel kind can be found over at Paul Brazill’s blog, You Would Say That, Wouldn’t You? Sample Q&A:
PDB) Is it true that Val McDermid once confused you with Dec from PJ & Duncan?
“If only. Val McDermid once confused me with Declan Hughes. When my lawyers sued for defamation, she tried to smooth it all out by deliberately confusing me with John Hughes. So that was okay, but then she made some sarky comment about how I was more ‘Sixteen Candles’ John Hughes than ‘Some Kind of Wonderful’ John Hughes. I said, “Break my heart and I break your face.” So she picked me up, turned me around and used my head to plunge her blocked toilet. That was when I got the first idea for the book that became ABSOLUTE ZERO COOL, actually. I owe Val a great debt of gratitude I may never be able to repay.”
  For the rest, you know what to do

2 comments:

lil Gluckstern said...

So I will put a hold on "Down These Green Streets." I just read "Eightball Boogie," and I found it funny, compelling, and sad. You certainly know how to portray the many threads of emotions and thoughts of very human people. You sure get close to breaking my heart. I am so glad I read this book. I'm now off to read "Crime Always Pays." I downloaded it the day I got my kindle at Christmas, but I have this regrettable habit of savoring books I want to read. I enjoyed your interview-how could I not?-and I thank you for bringing so much attention to the Irish Crime novel.

Declan Burke said...

Dear Lil - Is there any way we could bottle you and sell you to the world at large?

You made my week, ma'am, and I thank you kindly. I hope Crime Always Pays treats you well; be sure to drop by and let me know how it goes ...

Cheers, Dec