I like to think that Dan Kavanagh got mouldy drunk on Guinness somewhere in London last night. It’s been many years since I’ve read Julian Barnes, who last night won the 2011 Man Booker prize for his latest novel - or novella - THE SENSE OF AN ENDING, and while I vaguely remember liking both FLAUBERT’S PARROT and A HISTORY OF THE WORLD IN 10½ CHAPTERS, I don’t remember an awful lot more about them. Which probably says a lot more about me than it does about Julian Barnes and his novels.
On the other hand, I do remember hugely enjoying PUTTING THE BOOT IN, a crime novel Barnes published under the pseudonym Dan Kavanagh, not least because said Dan Kavanagh’s official biography made him out to be something of a rogue, and one who hailed from my home patch of County Sligo into the bargain. Anyway, I did a short write-up of PUTTING THE BOOT IN - which is only one of the Dan Kavanagh novels; there were four in total, as far as I know - back in 2008, which you can find roundabout here.
So there you have it - a Booker Prize winner with a rather decent half-canon of crime novels under his belt, as announced by Dame Stella Rimington, the former head of MI5 and a thriller writer who chaired the judging panel. A cunning black ops sortie by the crime fraternity? Have we shuffled another step closer to the day when a fully-fledged crime writer scoops the establishment’s glittering prize? You’d hope not, or at least I’d hope not - but it is starting to look like an inevitability …
“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.