Raymond Chandler, the great American novelist and screenwriter, passed away in 1959, leaving behind him some of the most influential prose in history, a legacy that would impact the Coen Brothers, Paul Auster, Quentin Tarantino, Haruki Murakami to name a few. Chandler is famous for his hardboiled suspense novels, and their subsequent film adaptations, notably Humphrey Bogart’s portrayal of L.A. Detective Philip Marlowe in films like The Big Sleep.
John Banville — Irish writer born in 1945 — is, according to the British Council, “a philosophical novelist concerned with the nature of perception, the conflict between imagination and reality, and the existential isolation of the individual.” His novel The Sea won the Man Booker Prize in 2005. He also has a crime fiction pen name, Benjamin Black, under which he has written five detective novels.
Yesterday, GalleyCat announced that Banville is to bring back Chandler’s L.A. Detective in a new novel following a press release from the Benjamin Black website. Banville will write the new novel under his pseudonym — this was confirmed by his editor, John Sterling. The book will be written under an arrangement with the Chandler estate, and the US Macmillan imprint Henry Holt will publish the book in 2013.
Along with Marlowe, Banville will bring back policeman Bernie Ohls, “the gumshoe’s good friend”. The book will have an original plot and take place in the 1940s. The setting will remain in Bay City – Chandler’s fictional stand-in for Santa Monica, California – and feature Chandler’s hallmark noir ambience. Banville promises to create a “slightly surreal, or hyper-real, atmosphere” for the novel, exploring some of Marlowe’s Los Angeles.
Banville said: “I love the challenge of following in the very large footsteps of Raymond Chandler. I began reading Chandler as a teenager, and frequently return to the novels. This idea has been germinating for several years and I relish the prospect of setting a book in Marlowe’s California, which I always think of in terms of Edward Hopper’s paintings. Bay City will have a slightly surreal, or hyper-real, atmosphere that I look forward to creating.”
According to Banville’s editor, John Sterling, “John Banville writing as Benjamin Black recreating Raymond Chandler is a perfect literary hand-off. There is no one better to bring Philip Marlowe back to life for the vast readership that loves noir crime fiction.”
Sterling acquired first serial, electronic and audio rights for the book in the United States and Canada from Ed Victor of Ed Victor Ltd. Victor represented both Banville and the Chandler estate in the negotiation. As outlined by the Bookseller, there is yet no word about the book’s publication in the UK, where Banville is represented by Pan Macmillan.