Tana French Art Works Podcast

    • Visual Arts

Tana French reigns over Irish crime fiction. She pushes the genre with descriptive lyrical language in novels that are character-driven and densely atmospheric. Her first six books center on the Dublin Murder Squad—an imaginary branch of the Dublin police force. But French defies convention—instead of a single narrator for the series, each book is narrated by a different member of the squad. So, a supporting player in book one might be the narrator of book four. These first-person narrations by various detectives whose own issues color their observations give readers a deeply personal and extremely partial perspective of colleagues, suspects, and the crimes. And the result is an understanding that truth is elusive.  Then in her seventh book—a stand-alone-- The Witch Elm, French turns this model upside down. Here, the narrator is a character who is the victim of one crime and a suspect in another. Not surprisingly, the detectives and their actions look very different from this perspective...manipulative and bullying rather than cops just trying to get the job done the best way they can.  In her latest book The Searcher, another stand-alone, French moves to new territory entirely: she takes the framework of the American western and shifts it to a remote rural area of Ireland where an ex Chicago cop settles by himself in a ramshackle cottage ready to begin a new life. It’s a familiar trope but Tana French molds it into a story of her own.  In this podcast, Tana French talks about The Searcher, her determination not to keep writing the same book over and over, the Dublin Murder Squad and its multiple first-person narrators, her time on the stage and how that experience informs her writing, and why she blames her entire career on Stephen King.

 

Tana French reigns over Irish crime fiction. She pushes the genre with descriptive lyrical language in novels that are character-driven and densely atmospheric. Her first six books center on the Dublin Murder Squad—an imaginary branch of the Dublin police force. But French defies convention—instead of a single narrator for the series, each book is narrated by a different member of the squad. So, a supporting player in book one might be the narrator of book four. These first-person narrations by various detectives whose own issues color their observations give readers a deeply personal and extremely partial perspective of colleagues, suspects, and the crimes. And the result is an understanding that truth is elusive.  Then in her seventh book—a stand-alone-- The Witch Elm, French turns this model upside down. Here, the narrator is a character who is the victim of one crime and a suspect in another. Not surprisingly, the detectives and their actions look very different from this perspective...manipulative and bullying rather than cops just trying to get the job done the best way they can.  In her latest book The Searcher, another stand-alone, French moves to new territory entirely: she takes the framework of the American western and shifts it to a remote rural area of Ireland where an ex Chicago cop settles by himself in a ramshackle cottage ready to begin a new life. It’s a familiar trope but Tana French molds it into a story of her own.  In this podcast, Tana French talks about The Searcher, her determination not to keep writing the same book over and over, the Dublin Murder Squad and its multiple first-person narrators, her time on the stage and how that experience informs her writing, and why she blames her entire career on Stephen King.