As it happens, I met with the London-based Jane Casey in Dublin last week to interview her about THE LAST GIRL, and asked - a little presumptuously, yes, but I’m pretty sure she’ll be shortlisted again - if she was looking forward to coming over for the IBA bunfight again. Quoth Jane:
“It’s the best night out so I’d love to, even if I wasn’t nominated. There are just so many good writers out there in the crime category. I think some of them would be justified in picketing the awards dinner if I was nominated for a third year running.”Heh. I love the idea that any group of Irish writers would be so organised as to coordinate anything as complex as a picket.
Actually, now that I mention it … I’ve been mulling over the notion of putting together a website (i.e., a properly funded operation, as opposed to this half-assed blog) that would coordinate a proactive ‘branding’ of Irish crime writing to the world, much in the same way as (unfortunate analogy alert) Bord Bia coordinates and promotes the efforts of a wide range of diverse food producers.
As all Three Regular Readers will be aware, I’m rather fond of the Irish crime novel, and believe that there are a number of world-class Irish crime writers. I also believe that one of the reasons that Irish crime writing hasn’t made the international impact that Scandinavian writing has, for example, is because the Irish crime novel is a far less homogenous beast than that of its Nordic counterpart. There’s no Scandinavian equivalent of the comic capers of Colin Bateman, Ruth Dudley Edwards or Eoin Colfer, for example, or the historical novels of Cora Harrison, Conor Brady, Benjamin Black and Kevin McCarthy; or the foreign-set novels written by William Ryan, Laurence O’Bryan and Conor Fitzgerald; the post-modern shenanigans of Ken Bruen; or the genre-blending of John Connolly.
I could go on, but the point is made: on the face of it, attempting to ‘brand’ even those few writers would be akin to minding mice at crossroads.
The flip side of that, of course, is that ‘diversity’ and ‘choice’ should be positive things, particularly for readers who are always on the look-out for something new.
Could it be done? Would it be a commercially viable project? Do writers have any interest in being ‘branded’ or tarred with the same brush? Should it be every man and woman for him and herself? It would need to be funded, of course, but I don’t know if the Arts Council even has a fund for such a project; and whether, in these straitened times, it would find itself in a position to do so, even if the spirit were willing.
If anyone has any thoughts, the comment box is open …