Praise for Declan Burke: “Burke shows again that he’s not just a comic genius, but also a fine dramatic writer and storyteller.” – Booklist. “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.

Monday, August 18, 2008

Tied Up With A Black Velvet Brand

By email, yesterday:
I see that John Banville [right] is on the Books 2008 program under his Benjamin Black name, but still not part of the crime fiction program. Don’t worry, I’m sticking with the crime fiction part, but that was nonetheless interesting to see. A snipe on Banville’s part at the genre that he has condescended to join?”
  Erm, probably. Although a straw-poll among the contributing Irish crime writers as to whether Black’s novels would render him worthy of inclusion might produce some interesting results. On the basis of THE LEMUR, I’d say yes.
  Meanwhile, if anyone can offer a phrase about crime fiction they’re heard more often in 2008 than, “That’s not surprising, since Benjamin Black is really John Banville, the Irish writer who won the 2005 Man Booker Prize …” (©, we’d love to hear it.
  Do you think if Rob Smith wins the Booker he’ll adopt a pseudonym for writing literary fiction?


Peter Rozovsky said...

He'll keep Tom Rob Smith for crime, Rob Tom Smith for when he gers serious.
Detectives Beyond Borders
"Because Murder Is More Fun Away From Home"

Declan Burke said...

Wouldn't it great all the same if he called himself 'Alias Smith Or Jones'? Cheers, Dec

crimeficreader said...

Having read some blog comments from the lit-brigade, who are up in arms at a thriller of such poor quality making their precious Booker longlist - I ask you - I saw one which referred to (my slightly inaccurate precis) "...that's why the knives are out for Tom Rob Smith..."

He got the Ian Fleming Steel Dagger with the CWA earlier this year and boy, does he need the prize - along with an entourage of bodyguards (make them ex-SAS).

If he goes literary - and I've just finished Child 44 and think he is well capable of it - he really does need a pseudonym. And a good one at that. I suggest Graham Carey Atwood to really throw the cat amongst the pigeons!

But if he prefers to remain outside the debate - and the young man came across to me at the Hay Festival as simply too full of graciousness and too well-mannered to even paw on this debate (he'd let the novel speak on its own account, I believe) - he might prefer something innocuous like J D Affrey or T S Hunter.

Whatever, I think this is an author to watch. He caused palputations in the hearts of Booker devotees with his inclusion on the loinglist this year. (Give them some meds please!) Before that he won the Ian Fleming Steel Dagger and was shortlisted for the New Blood Dagger. Before that he was on the shortlist of three for the debut novel prize that came from Desmond Elliott.

I know the Desmond Elliott Prize is new, but has any other author managed that with a first novel?

I hate the literary sticks thrown at this author, even though, having just finished the novel, I was a tad disappointed. But it seems to me that the litsticks were thrown into a self-fulfilling prophecy of "damn this novel" when they did the biz.

Memo to TRS: if you go literary, do go quietly and I suggest I B Humbled. (They know no other form, and I will be damned for this, I am sure, but I really don't care!)

adrian mckinty said...

Conan Doyle always wanted to be remembered for his serious novels not his mysteries...Arthur Sullivan wanted to be remembered for his serious music, not the silly operettas he wrote with Gilbert...Wouldnt it be ironic if JB got remembered for his crime fiction?

Declan Burke said...

Crimefic - If I may paraphrase Jesus for a moment ... "Suffer little Child 44's Rob Smith to come unto me, for his is the Kingdom of Booker."

Adrian - It could happen. Banville's profile has certainly spiked in the last couple of years, especially in the U.S. ... Mind you, if his crime fiction works as a gateway that brings readers to his other novels, that would be a very good thing, methinks.

Cheers, Dec

Peter Rozovsky said...

Wouldn't it be even better if he lived long enough to see himself remembered for his crime fiction?
Detectives Beyond Borders
"Because Murder Is More Fun Away From Home"

Declan Burke said...

Crikey, Peter - give the man a break. He's in the prime of his life ...! Cheers, Dec