John Banville to receive crime writing award in Waterford

Waterford boasts strong connections to crime novelist Raymond Chandler

John Banville writes crime novels under the Benjamin Black pseudonym. Photograph: Cyril Byrne / The Irish Times

John Banville writes crime novels under the Benjamin Black pseudonym. Photograph: Cyril Byrne / The Irish Times

 

The first Imagine Crime Writing Award will be presented to Irish novelist John Banville during this year’s Imagine Arts Festival in Waterford.

Waterford has strong family connections to detective fiction master Raymond Chandler and is launching the new crime writing award during this year’s festival which will run from October 15th to 25th.

Banville is a Booker Prize winner and former Irish Times Literary Editor who writes crime novels under the Benjamin Black pseudonym.

A plaque marking the birthplace of Florence Thornton, the mother of famed crime novelist Raymond Chandler can be seen on Cathedral Square in Waterford city.

Chandler created the fictional detective Philip Marlowe - recently “resurrected” in the Benjamin Black novel The Black-Eyed Blonde - while many of his novels, including The Big Sleep and Double Indemnity became major Hollywood movies.

The man himself spent time in Waterford in his youth, during summer holidays from Dulwich College in London, and his mother’s ancestral home area was at The Grange on John’s Hill.

This year’s schedule for the Imagine Arts Festival will be officially launched on Thursday at Greyfriars Art Gallery in Waterford, with RTÉ2 controller Bill Malone doing the honours.

Mr Malone said the schedule “boasts a terrific line-up” of events and talent from Ireland and around the world.

“I passionately believe in making arts as accessible as possible and the Imagine Arts Festival really is art for all - young and old, international, national and local.

“It is also great to see contemporary art feature so prominently. As channel controller for RTÉ2 I’m constantly on the look-out for fresh and original comedians, musicians and writers and the festival is a fantastic platform for Irish talent.”

This will be the 14th year of the Imagine Arts Festival and it includes music, poetry, fiction, comedy, dance, the visual arts and theatre.

Among the 50 different events will be a poetry evening with Paul Durcan reading from his latest book The Days of Surprise which contains 67 poems on such topics as the weather forecast, the Syrian war and Seamus Heaney.

Storytelling for adults and children will be delivered by Eddie Lenihan, the Master storyteller and Seanachaí who will perform two shows, one for children with magical and enchanting tales and an adult storytelling session recounting some of the more gruesome elements of Irish folklore.

A host of theatre productions will be on offer as well as a playwright workshop conducted by some top Irish writers including Gavin Kostick, Áine Ryan and Darren Donohue in partnership with the Irish Writers Centre, Dublin.

This year’s programme also heralds a strong musical line-up for all eclectic tastes while the annual “Booze, Blaas’n’Banter” event celebrating the City’s quayside and maritime heritage promises interesting chat and craic.

“This year,” festival director Ollie Breslin said, “locals and visitors to Waterford for the Imagine Arts Festival can expect a bountiful and inspirational programme of arts in unexpected places, celebrating art in all its forms from literature to spoken word to music to dance, comedy, visual art and theatre.”