Thursday, April 02, 2015

McDermid: Politics in Crime Fiction? Mysteries Left, Thrillers Right

Mystery novels lean to the left. Thrillers lean to the right. That’s what crime fiction superstar Val McDermid wrote in a piece for the Guardian a few days ago. McDermind writes:
As my compatriot Ian Rankin pointed out, the current preoccupations of the crime novel, the roman noir, the krimi lean to the left. It’s critical of the status quo, sometimes overtly, sometimes more subtly. It often gives a voice to characters who are not comfortably established in the world – immigrants, sex workers, the poor, the old. The dispossessed and the people who don’t vote.
The thriller, on the other hand, tends towards the conservative, probably because the threat implicit in the thriller is the world turned upside down, the idea of being stripped of what matters to you. And as Bob Dylan reminds us, “When you ain’t got nothing, you got nothing to lose.”
Do these thoughts hold water? Well, it should be pointed out that McDermid started putting these ideas together while in France where, she says, they take their crime fiction pretty seriously.
I was asked questions about geopolitics, and the function of fear. I found myself saying things like “escaping the hegemony of the metropolis” in relation to British crime writing in the 1980s. 
What they are also deeply interested in is the place of politics in literature. Over the weekend, there were local elections in France, and a thin murmur of unease ran through many of the off-stage conversations with my French friends and colleagues. They were anxious about the renaissance of the right, of the return of Nicolas Sarkozy, the failure of the left and the creeping rise of the Front National.
McDermid’s most recent novel is The Skeleton Road, published last September. Upcoming this year is Splinter the Silence, the ninth book in McDermid’s Tony Hill and Carol Jordan series, it will be out in December.

The full piece is thoughtful, unsurprisingly articulate and here.



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