Sleuthing Around Dublin's Darkest Corners | WAMU 88.5 - American University Radio
Filed Under:

Sleuthing Around Dublin's Darkest Corners

Play associated audio

"If you are going to write noir fiction, Dublin in the '50s is absolutely perfect," novelist Benjamin Black tells NPR's Philip Reeves. "All that poverty, all that fog, all that cigarette smoke, all those drink fumes. Perfect noir territory."

You may know Black better as Irish writer John Banville, winner of the 2005 Man Booker Prize for his novel The Sea. Banville writes his crime fiction under the name Benjamin Black. His novels star an oddball sleuth named Quirke — a bachelor in his early 40s who works as a consultant pathologist in a Dublin morgue.

"He has a very dark and troubled past," Black explains. "He was an orphan. When he looks back to his earliest years, he sees only a blank, which is I think what drives him. What drives his curiosity. His itch to know about other people's lives, other people's secrets."

If you're looking for a savvy investigator, you won't find it in Quirke. "In these books, nothing is ever resolved," Black says. "The baddies are not put away. Poor old Quirke is as dumb as the rest of us, you know. If you wanted the exact opposite of Sherlock Holmes, Quirke would be your man. He just stumbles along as we all do."

Like his protagonist, Black's Dublin setting is flawed, but full of character. "I suppose I love this place," Black says. "I feel very odd saying it. In a way, it's the cheapest thing you can do. It's like saying, 'I love my mother,' or 'Apple pie is nice.' But I suppose I love this place in a strange, embittered kind of way, which is the best way to love somewhere I think."

Copyright 2011 National Public Radio. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

NPR

A Woman Uses Art To Come To Terms With Her Father's Death

Artist Jennifer Rodgers' father was hospitalized for seven months with sepsis before he died. She used the creative process to try to comprehend his suffering and her loss.
NPR

'Into The Wild' Author Tries Science To Solve Toxic Seed Mystery

Jon Krakauer has long been haunted by how Christopher McCandless died in the Alaskan wilderness. In a scientific journal, he and a chemist show that the seeds McCandless consumed can contain a toxin.
NPR

5 Things You Should Know About Ben Carson

The pediatric neurosurgeon, who entered the presidential race Sunday night, performed pioneering operations on conjoined twins and hasn't held public office before. Here's what you might not know.
NPR

The Promise And Potential Pitfalls Of Apple's ResearchKit

Apple's new mobile software platform is designed to help collect data for medical research, but concerns have been raised about privacy and informed consent.

Leave a Comment

Help keep the conversation civil. Please refer to our Terms of Use and Code of Conduct before posting your comments.