Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Humor as Human Characteristic

Over at our sister publication, The Rap Sheet, January Magazine contributing editor Ali Karim chats with R.J. Ellory, a crime fictionist who seems poised on the edge of Really Big Things.

Ellory’s The Anniversary Man will be released by Orion in the United Kingdom in September. In the United States, readers can look forward to Overlook Press’ release of A Quiet Belief in Angels the same month.
Ali Karim: Balancing the harder edges and disturbing aspects of your narrative, though, there is a gentle humor and a humanity. What’s your take on the usefulness of humor in crime and thriller fiction?

R.J. Ellory: I think the books that really work are the ones where your protagonist manages to be human. Humor is most definitely a human characteristic, and this black edge of humor that defines so many P.I.s -- people like Harry Bosch, Kenzie and Gennaro, Pike and Cole, Strange and Quinn, Rebus, Jack Reacher, Marlowe, all the classic detectives -- is the thing that endears them to us. It makes them more like us, and that gives us a feeling of real-ness and equality. I have always said that the books that really connect are the ones that don’t only entertain, they evoke an emotion, and humor is one of the ways in which authors make their characters real people, and thus make you feel for them. I think the great authors do it without thinking and without planning. Their characters are so real in their own minds that they just come out that way.
Their entire exchange is here.

Photo taken by Ali Karim at The London Book Fair, April 2009.


Post a Comment

<< Home