A Path to Emerald Noir: The Rise of the Irish Detective Novel
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The idea for this book emerged from an article in The New York Times announcing that John Banville had been contracted to bring hard-boiled icon Philip Marlowe back from the literary graveyard. Banville—who introduced his Dublin criminal pathologist Quirke in Christine Falls (2006) under the pen name Benjamin Black—was already a leading author of the detective novel, so the genre was hardly groundbreaking territory for him. Nor were revived fictional characters a new concept when this announcement appeared in 2012. What caught my attention was the Times emphasizing the Booker Prize-winning Banville; it felt like a small touch of genre snobbery. The Booker Prize descriptor was right up front, before any details about the new novel were offered. It read a bit like a justification along the lines of ‘let me offer a preemptive apology for why I am bothering you, dear Times reader’. I bookmarked the article and forgot about it until Marlowe appeared in The Black-Eyed Blonde (2014), and Banville went on a promotional book tour. During that tour, he was asked about his dual literary personas and their respective generic labeling: Banville as ‘literature’ and Black as ‘detective’. He professed to ‘hate’ it, and elaborated on how ‘some of the best writing of the twentieth century was in crime novels. James M. Cain, Raymond Chandler, Richard Stark, Simenon of course—this is wonderful work, and shouldn’t be put off into a ghetto.’ Yet it often is, both within the academy and apart from it.