A review by Daniel Magennis. PhD candidate at Queen’s University Belfast.
Front cover of the May 2017 reissue of ‘Silver’s City’ by Turnpike Books.
A German once said the Irish always reminded him of a pack of hounds pulling down a stag, but, Nan, we only drag down our own kind. Or try to. (107-8)
Maurice Leitch’s 1981 Whitbread prize-winning novel Silver’s City portrays a cannibalistic Loyalist movement holed up in a ruined cityscape, ‘the true terrain of nightmare, fixed in its horrible aftermath’ (92). Its protagonist, the once glorious standard bearer of Ulster Loyalism, Silver Steele, sprung from prison by countrymen with whom he no longer has any common ground, finds himself in an alien city. The careless violence he witnesses leaves him stunned and senseless: Continue reading
By Daniel Magennis, M.A. Candidate, Queen’s University, Belfast
Thrillers which take Troubles-era Ireland as their subject matter form a distinct genre in their own right. The Troubles Thriller, or Troubles Trash, as it is sometimes known, has become the primary form of literary representation of Northern Ireland and its benighted capital Belfast (which has itself been described as “the noirest city on earth”). While the novels might be didactically unremarkable and have done little to challenge the tabloid representations on offer, some met with considerable commercial success both within and outside of the English-speaking world.
(With thanks to François Rivière)
The “Troubles Thriller” is an international genre. Albeit peripheral, and taking place in a small country, the conflict in Northern Ireland has generated a flurry of crime novels set there during the Troubles. In addition to the several hundreds Crime and spy novels written in Britain and in America on the ” Troubles” in Northern Ireland, there have been a number of novels written on this subject by European Crime authors and published in their own countries. These works have very rarely been translated into English (nor, as a rule in many other languages), as they primarily targeted their own domestic market, and sought to offer there a similar fare to the Tom Clancy, Jack Higgins and others who dominated the genre. They might be derivative, but this in itself does not make them redundant. Their take on the conflict is often highly idiosyncratic. They are controversial, but they were read by hundred thousands, if not by millions of readers. The political views they display and the representations of Ireland which they carry are of interest, making the books precious sources for a cultural history of European responses to the situation in Ireland. Continue reading