British author Hannah slams anti-crime novel snobbery

Tue Jul 13, 2010 1:30pm EDT
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By Martin Roberts

GIJON, Spain (Reuters Life!) - Best-selling British writer Sophie Hannah has no qualms about being labeled a crime novelist, but rejects charges the genre is inferior to mainstream literature.

In addition to being a full-time writer, Hannah has also been elected a fellow of Lucy Cavendish College at the University of Cambridge, which organizes the Women's Word literary festival every year.

Hannah has also published five books of poetry, children's books and a collection of short stories called the "Fantastic Collection of Everybody's Secrets," for one of which she won the 2004 Daphne du Maurier Prize for suspense short story.

She spoke to Reuters about her work and crime writing in general on the sidelines of the Semana Negra (Noir Week) crime writing festival, one of the biggest literary fairs in Europe.

Q. The Semana Negra has spent 23 years seeking to knock down the walls between high- and low-brow writing. Where do you stand?

A. Two things. I know a lot of crime writers think there shouldn't be any distinction. Now I disagree with that because I think the genre label of crime or mystery is useful for readers.

So somebody like me who loves mysteries, if I go to the crime and mystery section of the book shop, I know that I will find lots of books in which the mystery aspect is important for the writer.

Q. You don't mind being pigeon-holed?   Continued...