Where did the Ulster Noir explosion come from?
Why does N.I have so many great crime fiction writers right
(I’m not including myself as part of this group by the way!)
Colin Bateman, Stuart Neville, Brian McGilloway, Gerard Brennan, Adrian McKinty, Steve Cavanagh… the list goes on and on.
We’ve now got New York Times bestsellers, multiple award winners, and bona fide crime fiction heavyweights. But why all of a sudden?
Firstly, I think it is simply that there are a lot of good writers here. We didn’t ever have only C.S Lewis anyway, and the whole
has always had a rich wealth of
literary talent. We have also had crime fiction written here before too,
Maurice Leitch, for example in, decades past. Like the tourist post-Troubles
boom, perhaps it is in part that writers are just having the opportunity to be
‘discovered’ much more easily. The massive increase in book publishing and e
books of course is relevant too. But island of Ireland Northern Ireland has always had
many highs for a small country- look at shipbuilding, sports, music.
I think that there is a lot of interest in
right now, and it is not so much about The Troubles anymore. Most of the
recently successful writers are not focused on paramilitaries and I certainly
have no interest in writing about them either. I think they always cast a
shadow, but it is more interesting to use Northern Ireland as an interesting
scenic and cultural backdrop, just like any other place. We have the usual type
of crime like anywhere else too! Sometimes I get reviews that seem genuinely
surprised that I write about crime, but not specifically Troubles-related
crime. There is also the factor that during the seventies and eighties, there
was a substantial amount of fiction set here, but written by people from the
outside. This was not always very successfully done. Maybe the public are fed
up of reading about it.
Is it just another flash in the pan? Is
Northern Ireland just like Liverpool
in the sixties, or Seattle in the nineties? I don’t think so. I hope that this
is just the start of a continued appreciation of local writing talent. Perhaps
it will continue to grow until it is on the same scale of the huge trend of
Nordic Noir. Look at Iceland-
small, cold, wet, great settings, under exposed and recently punched above its
weight in football! Sound familiar?
What do you think?