Defenders of the genre

It’s the day after the fast. I’m trying to stay out of the big litblog skirmish (except to say that shame, shame, SHAME on Salon for publishing an article about one Jew having a beef with another Jew on Yom Kippur. Like that’s gonna help matters…) and what do I see? the whole literary/genre argument getting revived thanks to PD James and Ian Rankin:

TWO of Britain’s best loved authors have hit out at literary snobbery, saying that crime writing is long overdue the recognition of a mainstream literature award.

Baroness James of Holland Park, better known as P.D. James, and Ian Rankin said at The Times Cheltenham Literature Festival that genre writing at its best was the equal of so-called “prestigious literature”.

Despite the popularity of crime writing with the public, they said, the literary world looked down on it and on other genres as “inferior”.

James, the creator of the detective Adam Dalgliesh, told The Times: “I would say genre writing tends to be less well regarded. I don’t think that’s fair.

“Genre writing at its best can stand with any good, straight novel. It can tell you more about life today than more ‘prestigious’ novels.

“What’s interesting about the crime novel is it can explore all sorts of problems that worry people today and often does it more realistically. It often tells you more about the age in which it’s written … the crime novel can tell you more about the social mores and problems and complexities of the age.”

Rankin, who made similar comments at the Cheltenham Festival, also sends a shoutout David Peace’s way, which I certainly won’t argue with. The man’s a phenomenal writer who should get way more recognition than he does (hmm, if Martyn Waites can get published here, thanks to Pegasus Press, why not Peace?