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John Banville and Pierre Lemaitre

Crime novel

John Banville and Pierre Lemaitre established a dialogue on genre literature, which the two of them believe is not highly considered. “Nobody casts doubt on the fact that Simenon is a great author”, said Lemaitre, “but the crime novel continues to be regarded as a sub-genre.” Banville added: “I don’t like the idea of genre. I think there are just good books and books that aren’t so good”.

Both Banville and Lemaitre coincided in affirming that the crime novel is a genre that has survived because the themes it talks about are part of the human soul: Pierre Lemaitre affirmed that “Precarity, unemployment, poverty… They are symbolic violence. The crime novel functions like an anti-anxiety pill,” and John Banville noted that in crime fiction, “ordinary people do extraordinary things. It shows us about ourselves that  we are capable of anything” and that even the Greek tragedies are crime novels.

The two authors also talked about their work methods: Banville writes with a fountain pen; Benjamin Black, his crime author alter ego, with a computer; Lemaitre confessed that he wrote up to 22 versions of the first chapter of his last novel, Ressources inhumaines, because for him, “writing means re-writing”.

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24 March 2017