The University of Newcastle, Australia

Associate Professor Jesper Gulddal publishes The Routledge Companion to Crime Fiction

Thursday, 5 March 2020

English literature researcher with the School of Humanities and Social Science and member of the Centre for 21stCentury HumanitiesAssociate Professor Jesper Gulddal, has a new book out in April this year titled The Routledge Companion to Crime Fiction.

Jesper Gulddal

The book draws on his current work which focuses on the most popular literary genre in the world today, crime fiction.

“Crime fiction today is the most global literary genre. It has reached almost every country and has huge readerships across the world. In many countries crime fiction is at the top of the list in terms of popularity,” Jesper said.

Jesper co-edited the book which is a comprehensive introduction to crime fiction and crime fiction scholarship today. Across forty-five original chapters, specialists in the field offer innovative approaches to the classics of the genre as well as ground-breaking mappings of emerging themes and trends.

The volume is divided into three parts. Part I, Approaches, rearticulates the key theoretical questions posed by the crime genre. Part II, Devices, examines the textual characteristics of the genre. Part III, Interfaces, investigates the complex ways in which crime fiction engages with the defining issues of its context – from policing and forensic science through war, migration and narcotics to digital media and the environment.

Jesper’s research looks at crime fiction as a genre that travels with great ease in the form of translations across the world. It is this unique quality of the genre that intrigues Jesper.

“Crime fiction is a genre that crosses borders really easily in the sense of the format, devices and conventions used.  There are many examples of how the classic, British-American modes of crime fiction have been appropriated and given a local flavour around the world. But there are also examples of the opposite: crime fiction from other countries being read and imitated in the UK and the US. These transnational blendings are hugely interesting and important in terms of understanding the field of crime fiction today.”

“Traditionally crime fiction studies have not been not geared to understand the global-ness of the genre, with attention focused on UK and US crime fiction. I’m trying to bring about an appreciation of this global nature of crime fiction and come up with methods and practices that can be used to fully understand and unpack this global field of crime fiction.”

Jesper also co-authored a book in 2019 titled Criminal Moves. Modes of Mobility in Crime Fiction. 

It offers a major intervention into contemporary theoretical debates about crime fiction.

“It seeks to overturn some of the standard assumptions about the genre – for example that crime fiction does not warrant critical analysis, that genre norms and conventions matter more than textual individuality, and that comparative perspectives are secondary to the study of the British-American canon,” Jesper said.

Criminal Moves challenges the distinction between literary and popular fiction and proposes that crime fiction be seen as constantly violating its own boundaries.”

Jesper recently delved into data on Australian crime fiction in the international market to determine the level of rights sales and number of translations of Australian crime fiction overseas.

“Interestingly we found that Australian crime fiction doesn’t sell all that well internationally. There are a few success stories such as Jane Harper’s The Dry, however on average the number of translations each year is fairly low.”

“So the question is why “bush noir” isn’t as popular internationally as “Nordic noir”. I’m looking at the way Australian crime fiction is marketed internationally when books are translated, how they are packaged in terms of the cover, and how they pitch their Australian-ness to an international audience.”

Jesper hopes to publish the results of that study over the coming years.

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