Thursday, 5 July 2007

We should pay crime writers more respect

The subject of book awards has always been a sore subject one for crime writers, many of whom have long nursed grudges against the bigger literary prizes. PD James and Ian Rankin have both complained that crime - not to mention other genre writing - is unfavourably overlooked in these matters. When he picked up his Nibby from Richard and Judy earlier this year, winning in the crime thriller category, Ian Rankin couldn't help but bring the issue up again. Look at the article and already the writer is alienating his audience in calling Rankin et al "crime writers". How would he categorise Salmun Rushdie or even Charles Dickens?

Guardian Blog
It is especially poignant on the day of the Duncan Lawrie Crime Writers' Association Daggers.The winners will be revealed tonight (5 July) at a black tie dinner at the elegant Four Seasons Hotel on Park Lane in London. The event will begin with a drinks reception at 6:30pm, followed by dinner in the ballroom at 7:45pm. Guest of honour will be Bob Marshall-Andrews, QC, MP. The winners will be announced after the dinner. It should be on the wire from 2300hrs tonight. And we will carry our usual photo shoot report.

But going back to the argument, it's hard to say just who is to blame. Elitism by the readers, publishers focusing their attention on the genre much in the same way that the UK library system categorise their books? Who knows? Does it really matter? Obviously it does to some people.

A few years back when Henning Mankell's Sidetracked won the Gold Dagger (as it was in old money), it started a simliar argument over translated books. Many author's had their noses put out of joint and created such a hue and cry that now the CWA has a separate award for a book in translation aka The Duncan Lawrie International Dagger.

In my opinion, a good book is a good book. Full stop.

1 comment:

Steven said...

Yes. Good writing is good writing. I think the difference between the two camps comes down to a fetishization of beatutifully crafted sentences versus beautifully crafted plots. Fetishization is (by both readers and writers) can be avoided and should be. I think on the literary side, however, (the side I am not on professionally) they have a danger of losing their audience in much the same way Classical music did when they moved away from anything resembling an enjoyable tune in favor of rigorous structuring that only a musician with a Math Ph.D. can appreciate.