Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Crime-fiction firsts in New Zealand and South Africa this week

By the time you read this, New Zealand crime writers, critics and fans should be putting on the soup and fish for their country's first crime-fiction awards, and their counterparts in South Africa recovering from that nation's first crime-fiction festival.

The Ngaio Marsh Award for best New Zealand crime novel was to have been presented in Christchurch on Sept. 10, but a magnitude-7.1 earthquake delayed things. But tonight, seismic conditions permitting, the inaugural honor will go to one of the following:
I am proud to have been one of the contest's judges, an honor I owe to Craig Sisterson, the award's creator. Three cheers to the nominees and four cheers to the energetic Craig.
***

Meanwhile in South Africa, the equally energtic Mike Nicol put together an impressive program for this past weekend's CrimeWrite, a two-day component of Johannesburg's BookEx.

As recently as Bouchercon 2010 in October, participants were unsure of the who and the what. Then, on five weeks' notice, Nicol assembled a roster that included Antony Altbeker, Wessel Ebersohn, Richard Kunzmann, Sarah Lotz, Chris Marnewick, Deon Meyer, Sifiso Mzobe, Mike Nicol, Margie Orford, Martin Welz and Detectives Beyond Borders friends Jassy Mackenzie, Michael Sears, Roger Smith and Stanley Trollip — pretty damn close to a who's who of one of the world's most dynamic crime-fiction scenes. Hell, even Nicol's program notes make entertaining reading.

That was the country's first crime-fiction festival, and I hope they won't hold too many more without me. So, crime fans, even though the world may be going to hell, this is a week to rejoice at two signs of our favorite genre's vitality and widespread appeal.

© Peter Rozovsky 2010

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17 Comments:

Blogger Yvette said...

I'm so glad they've finally honored Ngaio Marsh with an award named after her. (Don't think there's any other.) I haven't read the nominees, but I'm adding their books to my TBR list for sure. Just this past year I reread all the Ngaio Marsh books I could get my hands on and discovered, to my chagrin, that there were quite a few I hadn't read at all. Yikes!
Well, I rectified the situation by going on a Ngaio Marsh reading binge. I do that sometimes. Discovered once again what a brilliant and charming writer she was.

November 30, 2010  
Blogger Yvette said...

...and by the way, the Award itself is wonderful looking.

November 30, 2010  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

I've read a collection of Ngaio Marsh's short fiction that I liked. Among the novels, I read a recommendation for
A Surfeit of Lampreys. Where does that book stand in your estimation? Which of the novels would you recommend?

I'm not shocked you found you had not read some of her books. Those Golden Age writers were productive. And I agree that the trophy looks good.

November 30, 2010  
Blogger Yvette said...

Oh, A SURFEIT OF LAMPREYS is wonderful - the murder utterly gruesome. The characterization of the nutball Lamprey family a delight. (This book is also known as DEATH OF A PEER, if I'm not mistaken.)

Other books of Marsh I especially loved and recommend:

DIED IN THE WOOL (The most brilliant title - you'll know why once you read it) The book takes place in New Zealand, one of the few Marsh books that do.

SINGING IN THE SHROUDS - Here Marsh tackles a serial killer aboard a ship.

NIGHT AT THE VULCAN
Murder at the theater. Marsh was a producer for many years so her theater details are topnotch.

A CLUTCH OF CONSTABLES
The Constables in the title are a play on words. Murder on one of those Thames river barge cruises.
This is often thought of as Marsh's best next to the Lamprey book.

ARTISTS IN CRIME

SPINSTERS IN JEOPARDY

LAST DITCH

KILLER DOLPHIN Another murder plot at a theater, the 'Dolphin' of the title.

I believe I read the entire canon, and these, if I HAD to choose, were my favorites, Peter. Begin with the Lamprey book and you can't go wrong.

November 30, 2010  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

Many thanks. Screwball antics sometimes push me over the edge. On the other hand, I love P.G. Wodehouse, so we'll see what happens.

November 30, 2010  
Blogger Yvette said...

Well, then, begin with DIED IN THE WOOL or NIGHT AT THE VULCAN or ARTISTS IN CRIME. Or two I didn't mention: SCALES OF JUSTICE or HAND IN GLOVE. No problem. :)

November 30, 2010  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

No, I think I'll look for A Surfeit of Lampreys first. Philadelphia lacks much, but one thing it does have is a good secondhand crime-fiction bookshop. That will be my first stop.

November 30, 2010  
Anonymous Elisabeth said...

"Philadelphia lacks much..." I think Phila. and environs have a lot! A world-class art museum for starters. But then I suppose we tend to downplay the pros and attractions of the cities we live in. Whenever I see a tour bus full of goggle-eyed visitors to LA/Hollywood/Beverly Hills I ask myself, "What on earth made them want to come to SoCal?!"

November 30, 2010  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

Elisabeth, you're right. I suppose residents of Paris, London, Split, Florence, Arezzo, and Portland, Ore., shrug their shoulders when visitors rave about their cities.

What does Philadelphia lack? A public-transit system with an IQ over 40, a political system that has evolved beyond the sixteenth century, and a crime-fiction bookstore that sells new books, for three. The last may be one reason crime authors virtually never come to Philadelphia on book tours but often do stop at the Mystery Lovers Bookshop in Oakmont, Pa., near Pittsburgh.

But we do have Noircon!

November 30, 2010  
Anonymous Elisabeth said...

Oh, I forgot to use the crime fiction bookstore as barometer... In that case, L.A. (and SoCal) is far superior to Phila. as there must be 6 or 7 within driving distance of central L.A.

We don't have Independence Hall, admittedly perhaps a bit of a yawn to a Canadian, but I was deeply moved to visit it the first time (thank God it was pre-9/11; the place now shrieks: "American citizen, go away!") And Phila. is such a walkable city.

And, yes, Portland, OR, is "a nice place to visit" but, like Seattle, it's awfully provincial and has an eerie, smug, (unwarranted) self-satisfied air of superiority about it.

December 01, 2010  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

Elisabeth, I would experience palpable awe when walking past Independence Hall at night when I first got here. I've compared it to visiting Jerusalem or the Parthenon or Rome. We didn't get to be what we are as a culture by accident, and Independence Hall was the seat of much of what all of us in the West turned into.

I've only spent two or three days in Portland, but it is one of the few places I've visited where I was struck with the thought that this might be a pleasant place to live. One other such place was Split, Croatia. There may have been another, but I can't recall it.

December 01, 2010  
Anonymous Elisabeth said...

Yes! Independence Hall at night. Before all the post-9/11 barricades, etc. One could almost conjure up the 18th century.

Portland is, indeed, a pleasant place to live. One of my best friends lives there and I visit her periodically. It has all the amenities that make urban living bearable, but I still contend that it is provincial and annoyingly self-satisfied and "in denial" as it becomes more and more like L.A. ("It can't happen here!"--in spite of the number of California emigres who've moved there...?)

This thread reminds me of the woman proprietor of the hotel I stayed at in Darmstadt, Germany. What on earth would you want to come here for, she wondered. Why, Darmstadt is a pilgrimage site for Jugendstil fans, I said. She still thought I was weird.

December 01, 2010  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

Elisabeth, about the only thing I remember disturbing the balmy aura of goodwill in Portland was resentment of all those damned Californians who were moving in and driving property values up.

December 01, 2010  
Blogger Kiwicraig said...

Hey Peter - it was so fantastic to have you on board for the inaugural award. Thanks so much for all your efforts. Hopefully I'll be able to buy you a beer or two at a future Bouchercon or Harrogate etc.

December 02, 2010  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

You're most welcome.
I'll take a Hendricks gin and tonic.

Next Bouchercon on the West Coast is Long Beach in 2014. I'll expect to see you then if not sooner.

December 02, 2010  
Anonymous kathy d. said...

Perhaps someday Malla Nunn, who is living in Australia, but writes about South Africa, will receive an award.

Her books about early 1950s life (and crime-solving) under apartheid are well-written, some of it beautifully written.

December 06, 2010  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

I've heard good things about her, and she looks young enough that she could have a long career ahead of her. So awards are possible, I'd say.

December 06, 2010  

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