Crime novelist Val McDermid (filed in Adult Fiction in the Lennoxville Library) argues in the UK Guardian that your favoured genre may reflect political leanings.
“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….
“Of course, these positions don’t usually hit the reader over the head like a party political broadcast. If it is not subtle, all you succeed in doing is turning off readers in their droves. Our views generally slip into our work precisely because they are our views, because they inform our perspective and because they’re how we interpret the world, not because we have any desire to convert our readership to our perspective.”
The original can be found here, at http://www.theguardian.com/books/booksblog/2015/apr/01/why-crime-fiction-is-leftwing-and-thrillers-are-rightwing .
In response, author Jonathan Freedland disagreed. Crime novels on the left? “[S]omeone forgot to tell [Agatha Christie’s] Miss Marple.
“Still, my quibble is not really with McDermid’s claim that the crime novel leans leftward. I want to object to the other half of her case: that the thriller tilts inevitably towards the right. As someone who is both a card-carrying Guardian columnist and a writer of political thrillers, I feel compelled to denounce the very idea.
“Sure, there are individual stars of the genre who sit on the right. Tom Clancy was an outspoken Republican (though even his most famous creation, Jack Ryan, was ready to rebel against a bellicose US president for meddling in Latin America). But Clancy’s conservatism is more the exception than the rule.
“Consider the supreme master of the spy thriller, John le Carré… In the last decade, Le Carré has mercilessly exposed the follies of the war on terror, probing deep into the web of connections that ties together finance, politics and the deep state. The older he gets, the more Le Carré seems to be tearing away at the establishment and its secret, complacently amoral ways.
“And that kind of fury is typical of the fuel that burns through many thrillers. This is a genre whose most frequent theme is injustice: the urge to right a wrong, even if that means, to adapt Val McDermid’s words, turning the world upside down.”
Read the complete response here, at http://www.theguardian.com/books/booksblog/2015/apr/03/thrillers-politically-conservative-val-mcdermid-crime-fiction-jonathan-freedland .
Are you a vivid reader of thrillers or crime novels? Or both? What do you think of the politics of such novels? Post your thoughts, for publication in an upcoming Good Reads (in the Sherbrooke Record newspaper, and here).
– May 15, 2015