Irish Noir

Doing justice to the Irish border landscape: An interview with Anthony Quinn

Lough neagh


[Dominique Jeannerod]  Many thanks for accepting to answer some questions, ahead of next week’s Belfast Conference on Representations of the Rural in Crime Fiction.  We are really looking forward to it . You will be in No Alibis on Monday, to talk about your writing, together with Brian McGilloway and Andrew Pepper.  

 To begin with, in which literary tradition would you consider yourself belonging?

[Anthony Quinn] Although I write crime fiction I aspire, perhaps a little grandiosely, to writing within an older Irish tradition, a peasant literature that is about a fugitive, almost magical sense of place and belonging, and the crimes that are committed by dislocated people and societies, the same tradition say as JB Keane’s The Field, or the poetry of Patrick Kavanagh.

Is there something like a rural school within Irish Noir? Continue reading

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No Alibis : An Interview with David Torrans

No Alibis

 

 by Annika Breinig (with thanks to Portia Ellis-Woods and Dominique Jeannerod)

 55536_1_no-alibis-bookstore

No Alibis : a  Bookshop to die for (83, Botanic Avenue, Belfast, BTL7 1 JL) Continue reading

A Journey with Sam Millar

The-Avengers

Jack Kirby, The Avengers, 4, March 1964 (cover art)

There are many photographs of Sam Millar in the press, and on the web.  On most of them, he looks rather intimidating. On some, you might even feel  a sense of menace.  He comes across as a hard man,  no mistake.  His  reputation, CV, and books, of course, do nothing to change this first impression. Or maybe they  do influence it. Nobody would wish to know  as  much about violence as he does. There is something else also, and his books prepare you for that too, when you meet him : a  dark and constant sense of humour, and a great gift for telling stories, especially stories of tough luck.  And a passion for books, magazines, and all printed matter. The journey between Dublin Connolly Station and Belfast Central lasts 2 hours.   It  feels much shorter. We have barely passed the  viaduct on the Broadmeadow  estuary when he orders coffees, and starts talking about the books he read. His father, a sailor, encouraged him to read;   himself read all the time.  Reading was a political act. When he came  ashore, back to Belfast, he brought books.   From America, he used to bring him Comics;  Marvel, DC Comics, stories of heinous villains and  of superheroes fighting for justice. Sam grew up during the early period of the troubles  in Northern Ireland, reading  Detective Comics made in New York.  The Civil rights movement and the tail end of the silver age of Marvel comics might  have seemed to intersect, not only historically, but at some distant, ideal point. Continue reading

The Irresistible Rise of Irish Crime Fiction

Crime Collage

When asked why he chose to set his first crime novel in the US, Irish writer John Connolly said, ‘Because in Ireland everybody would’ve known who done it within days.’ Exaggeration aside, in the pre-Celtic Tiger landscape of Ireland, this may well have been the case, but it certainly isn’t nowadays as Irish crime fiction appears to be in its prime and becoming a genre of its own to rival our Scandinavian counterparts.

Val McDermid, in a recent Radio 4 programme coined the phrase ‘Emerald Noir’ – but whatever you call it, Celtic Crime or Hibernian Homicide is now gaining worldwide attention. Compared to back in the 1980s when you could possibly name Colin Bateman or Eoin McNamee as famous Irish crime writers, nowadays you have writers such as Tana French, Ken Bruen, Declan Hughes, Declan Burke, Arlene Hunt and Stuart Neville all jostling for the crime spotlight.

Tana French Tana French

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Undercover : an Interview with Gerard Brennan

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[Dominique Jeannerod] What is Fireproof about?

[Gerard Brennan] Fireproof, on the surface, is about a man who ended up in Hell due to a bureaucratic bungle and is sent back to Earth with a mission to establish a satanic church in Northern Ireland. It’s not based on a true story.

GBWD

Is it crime fiction?

The book straddles a few genres. There are certainly crime fiction elements (or tropes if you want to be unkind), such as a femme fatale, murder, mystery, revenge… But it also features supernatural creatures such as Lucifer, an imp, and Cerberus, a three-headed dog who guards the gates of Hell/Hades in Greek mythology. Oh, and I like to think it’s a wee bit funny as well. Continue reading

Irish Noir in 2015

Taken for Dead, Graham Masterton

The ever excellent Declan Burke has started to compile a list of highly anticipated Irish Crime Fiction books due for publication in the coming months. These include :

Adrian McKinty , Gun street Girl  (January 8)
Graham Masterton, Taken for Dead (February 12)
Steve Cavanagh, The Defence  (March 12)
John Connolly, A Song of Shadows (April 9)
Alex Barclay, Killing Ways,  (April 9)
Jarlath Gregory, The Organised Criminal  (April 9)

For (many) more, see

http://crimealwayspays.blogspot.co.uk/2015/01/publications-irish-crime-fiction-2015.html

What’s more, Declan  will be updating  his list regularly throughout the year, thus providing a snapshot of one year of production in the long  history of  Irish Crime Fiction in general. But, too, in the considerably shorter history of Irish Noir, a publishing phenomenon, which only started 20 years ago. Thus, this is also an occasion to reflect on the maturity gained by Irish Noir and the generation which brought it to the world. That Declan Burke is one of them makes it of course all the more interesting.

The Defence, Steve Cavanagh Gun Street Girl, Adrian McKinty

Continue reading

How Noir is Belfast ?

Adrian McKinty and Stuart Neville, in the introduction to the recently launched collection of short stories, Belfast Noir (N.Y., Akashic, 2014) describe Belfast, with some claims, as ” the noirest city on earth”.  The feeling seems to be shared by the international publishing industry. In so far at least as original titles of noir novels set in Northern Ireland have been changed,  in translation or for the U.S. Market, in order to feature the name of the city. Or have been produced originally, abroad, or domestically with a title using explicitly Belfast as a byword  for violence.  Here are a few examples of such “Belfastxploitation”, with some images for a view on Belfast, as reconstructed from the outside…

mILLAR

Sam Millar , Die Bestien von Belfast: Ein Fall für Karl Kane, Translator :  Joachim Körb

Atrium Verlag, Hamburg, 2013 (original, Bloodstorm, 2008). Continue reading

Irish Noir in 75 Dates

Bruen index

Banville, Vincent Death by design Wolfhound Press 1994
McEldowney, Eugene  A Kind of Homecoming   Heinemann 1994
McNamee, Eoin Resurrection Man Picador 1994
Banville, Vincent Death the Pale Rider   Poolbeg 1995
Bateman, Colin Divorcing Jack  Harper Collins 1995  Betty Trask Prize

There are countless examples of Irish Crime Fiction troughout the 20th Century. Admittedly, in some cases the links between  a given  Crime  author and Ireland might be missed, or are by now forgotten. The prolific George A. Birmingham, for example  (James Owen Hannay, 1865 – 1950) was a Belfast born Church of Ireland clergyman. Some Irish authors rank amongst the most celebrated representatives of the Golden Age of Detective Fiction, like the Dublin born Freeman Wills Crofts (1879-1957). Nicholas Blake (Cecil Day-Lewis, 1904-1972) is another famous Ireland born  author of Britsh Mystery novels.The “noir” genre however starts in Ireland much later. For the most part it only began 20 years ago. Continue reading