Blog

Christopher Fowler
Posted in
Books
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As the Man Booker Prize for literature announces its annual long list, it has once more made headlines for taking an unusual step. The Booker is one of the most prestigious literary awards in the world (I would include it in a list that features the Pulitzer, Nobel and Neustadt awards) but it has not always made good choices, from its criteria for selection to the decision to insert a sponsor name…
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Christopher Fowler
Posted in
The Arts
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A comment from Robin yesterday prompts this consideration; when does a book stretch credibility too far for you? On TV that moment is known as Jumping the Shark, after the Fonz in 'Happy Days'. On film it's called Nuking the Fridge, after the fourth Indiana Jones film. What is it in books? Personally, I find it in two places on the page; first when a story's hero/ine does something implausible or…
8 comments
Christopher Fowler
Posted in
Reading & Writing
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Despite the new century's welcome seismic shift in sexual equality, we all know there are gender divisions in reading. Or as my father once put it; 'Romantic novels are for middle-aged women who hate their husbands.' I've met few men who profess to having read 'Jane Eyre', a novel I find turgid and deeply peculiar, or for that matter 'Pride and Prejudice', although a few have read the one with…
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Christopher Fowler
Posted in
Reading & Writing
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Writers are not supposed to name the books they don't like; it's an unwritten law, as if by doing so we'll somehow damage the trade. All writers have flaws and quirks; it's what makes them individual and interesting, and is why instructional books like Joseph Campbell's 'The Hero's Journey' cannot be applied to the letter, because if we did that all books would be the same. But there are some…
9 comments
Christopher Fowler
Posted in
Great Britain
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According to property agents, Harrogate in North Yorkshire is the UK's happiest town, while nine out of 10 of the grimmest places to live are in London - but Harrogate, with its flower-filled park running through its centre, its famous tea rooms and spa, its affluent kitchen design shops, hides a dark secret. This Thursday it will be awash with bloodlusting misfits whose minds are diseased with…
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Christopher Fowler
Posted in
Bryant & May
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'Choose one style of writing and stick with it,' I was told many years ago by an editor. Naturally I ignored her and continued to plough a lonely furrow between every possible known genre, starting with my very first fiction novel 'Roofworld' (SF? Fantasy? Urban Drama? Thriller? Satire?) through 'Spanky' (Thriller? Satire? Bromance? Supernatural?) to 'Plastic' (Chick Noir? Female Empowerment…
19 comments
Christopher Fowler
Posted in
Reading & Writing
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Today's column is a coalescence of several others I've been writing and thinking about for a while. It came to a head when I gave a speech at the Southbank Literary Festival about outsider status. I'd written before on the subject, but the speech introduced a number of outsiders from different centuries. The ultimates are Proust and Kafka, but literature is filled with them, and there's the most…
10 comments
Christopher Fowler
Posted in
Media
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As always it took the excellent Val McDermid to point out what should have been obvious; that crime and mystery novels are left wing and thrillers are right wing. Writing in the Guardian, she points out that the crime novel gives a voice to characters who are not comfortably established in the world, while thrillers play on the idea of the world being turned upside down and the status quo being…
3 comments
Christopher Fowler
Posted in
London
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Okay, not just killing but robbing, blackmailing, committing all kinds of heinous dishonests - and it's all in a good cause. Ian Rankin introduces a collection of crime writing that's an Oxfam charity fundraiser, featuring a compelling (it says here) cast of 27 suspects that includes George Pellecanos, Mark Billingham, Val McDermid, Irvine Welsh, Denise Mina, Alexander McCall Smith, Ann Cleeves…
3 comments
Christopher Fowler
Posted in
Reading & Writing
Audio books, aren't they versions of paper books? Not any more, because legendary crime editor Maxim Jakubowski has created 'The Sounds Of Crime' an anthology specifically designed to exploit the audio possibilities of crime, and it's available only in audio form. I'm there with a new story, along with Lawrence Block, Mark Billingham, Peter James and Val McDermid - available now from Whole Story…
3 comments

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