Fanning the flames of a controversy that won’t go away

So, bet you thought the Gold Dagger brouhaha was going to go away, right? Damage done, all forgotten till the award nomination announcements sometime in the spring? Yeah, right. Let’s play the Conspiracy Tango, shall we?

BRITAIN’S longest-running book award, the Golden
Dagger, has fallen victim to a dastardly conspiracy, according to crime

The Crime Writers’ Association (CWA), which runs the £20,000 prize
that in the past has been awarded to John le Carré and Ian Rankin, has
been attacked by its own judges because it has decided to ban
non-English-speaking authors from competing.

Three of the past five winners of the top prize have been translated works by
foreign authors, often from Scandinavia, where crime fiction is hugely

Judges discern the hand of a new sponsor hoping to give the award a higher profile.

Paul Blezard, a broadcaster and author who is on the judging
panel, is convinced of a conspiracy between the association and the
sponsor, Duncan Lawrie, a private bank.

“There is a crime novel to be written set in the CWA,” he
said. “There seem to be a number of cobwebby rooms with strange things
going on. I think it is appalling. Last year there seemed to be a
preponderance of Scandinavians. Perhaps they think that British authors
need help.”

Part of the problem is that no one seems to be sticking to the same story as to why the rule change was made. Some say it predates Duncan Lawrie’s involvement, while others flat-out correlate the two:

Philip Gooden, the award’s liaison officer, said
that the association had been spurred to make the decision by Duncan
Lawrie. “It is to do with our relationship with sponsors and with
bookshops,” he said. “There is some virtue in having names that are
fairly well-known and having the prize confirm their status.”

And then there’s this fabulous head-scratcher:

But judges will still be obliged to read translations for the other categories, such as the second-place Silver Dagger.

This is probably just lazy reporting, but hey, I thought there would be no Silver Dagger from now on, right guys?

Still, the most telling quote of all is from the bookshops:

Jon Howells, from Ottakars, the high street
trader, says crime replaced science fiction as the bestselling genre
seven years ago, but that the Golden Dagger award has failed to keep
pace with the mass market. “They have never been marketed that
brilliantly,” he said. “They don’t actually shift books off the

Maybe instead of emulating the Booker by getting rid of novels in translation for consideration, they spend their energies trying to figure out how to make CWA winners actually sell more….