John Banville
Overview
John Banville is an Irish novelist and screenwriter.

Banville's breakthrough novel The Book of Evidence
The Book of Evidence
The Book of Evidence is a 1989 novel by the Irish author John Banville. The book is narrated by Freddie Montgomery, a 38-year-old scientist, who murders a servant girl during an attempt to steal a painting from a neighbour...

(1989) was shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize
Man Booker Prize
The Man Booker Prize for Fiction is a literary prize awarded each year for the best original full-length novel, written in the English language, by a citizen of the Commonwealth of Nations, Ireland, or Zimbabwe. The winner of the Man Booker Prize is generally assured of international renown and...

, and won the Guinness Peat Aviation
Guinness Peat Aviation
Guinness Peat Aviation was a Commercial Aircraft Sales and Leasing company set up in 1975 by Aer Lingus, the Guinness Peat Group and Tony Ryan, then an Aer Lingus executive.-History:...

 award. His eighteenth novel, The Sea
The Sea (novel)
- Plot summary:The story is told by Max Morden, a self-aware, retired art historian attempting to reconcile himself to the deaths of those whom he loved as a child and as an adult....

, won the Man Booker Prize in 2005. He was awarded the Franz Kafka Prize
Franz Kafka Prize
The Franz Kafka Prize is an international literary award presented in honour of Franz Kafka, the German language novelist. The prize was first awarded in 2001 and is co-sponsored by the and the city of Prague, Czech Republic. At a presentation held annually at the end of October in the Old Town...

 in 2011. He also writes crime fiction under the pseudonym Benjamin Black.

Banville is known for his precise, cold, forensic prose style, Nabokovian
Vladimir Nabokov
Vladimir Vladimirovich Nabokov was a multilingual Russian novelist and short story writer. Nabokov wrote his first nine novels in Russian, then rose to international prominence as a master English prose stylist...

 inventiveness, and for the dark humour of his generally arch narrators.
Encyclopedia
John Banville is an Irish novelist and screenwriter.

Banville's breakthrough novel The Book of Evidence
The Book of Evidence
The Book of Evidence is a 1989 novel by the Irish author John Banville. The book is narrated by Freddie Montgomery, a 38-year-old scientist, who murders a servant girl during an attempt to steal a painting from a neighbour...

(1989) was shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize
Man Booker Prize
The Man Booker Prize for Fiction is a literary prize awarded each year for the best original full-length novel, written in the English language, by a citizen of the Commonwealth of Nations, Ireland, or Zimbabwe. The winner of the Man Booker Prize is generally assured of international renown and...

, and won the Guinness Peat Aviation
Guinness Peat Aviation
Guinness Peat Aviation was a Commercial Aircraft Sales and Leasing company set up in 1975 by Aer Lingus, the Guinness Peat Group and Tony Ryan, then an Aer Lingus executive.-History:...

 award. His eighteenth novel, The Sea
The Sea (novel)
- Plot summary:The story is told by Max Morden, a self-aware, retired art historian attempting to reconcile himself to the deaths of those whom he loved as a child and as an adult....

, won the Man Booker Prize in 2005. He was awarded the Franz Kafka Prize
Franz Kafka Prize
The Franz Kafka Prize is an international literary award presented in honour of Franz Kafka, the German language novelist. The prize was first awarded in 2001 and is co-sponsored by the and the city of Prague, Czech Republic. At a presentation held annually at the end of October in the Old Town...

 in 2011. He also writes crime fiction under the pseudonym Benjamin Black.

Banville is known for his precise, cold, forensic prose style, Nabokovian
Vladimir Nabokov
Vladimir Vladimirovich Nabokov was a multilingual Russian novelist and short story writer. Nabokov wrote his first nine novels in Russian, then rose to international prominence as a master English prose stylist...

 inventiveness, and for the dark humour of his generally arch narrators. His stated ambition is to give his prose "the kind of denseness and thickness that poetry has".

He is a perennial contender for the Nobel Prize in Literature
Nobel Prize in Literature
Since 1901, the Nobel Prize in Literature has been awarded annually to an author from any country who has, in the words from the will of Alfred Nobel, produced "in the field of literature the most outstanding work in an ideal direction"...

.

Biography

He was born William John Banville in Wexford
Wexford
Wexford is the county town of County Wexford, Ireland. It is situated near the southeastern corner of Ireland, close to Rosslare Europort. The town is connected to Dublin via the M11/N11 National Primary Route, and the national rail network...

, Ireland to Agnes (née Doran) and Martin Banville. He is the youngest of three siblings; his older brother Vincent is also a novelist and has written under the name Vincent Lawrence as well as his own. His sister Anne Veronica "Vonnie" Banville-Evans has written both a children's novel and a reminiscence of growing up in Wexford.

Banville was educated at a Christian Brothers
Christian Brothers
Christian Brothers may refer to:* Congregation of Christian Brothers, a Catholic lay order founded at Waterford, Ireland in 1802 by the Blessed Edmund Ignatius Rice...

 school and at St Peter's College, Wexford
St Peter's College, Wexford
St Peter's College, Wexford is an Irish secondary school and former seminary located in Summerhill, overlooking Wexford town. It is a single sex school for male pupils. Currently its school population is approximately 700. The current principal is Mr. Patrick Quigley and the current vice-principal...

. Despite having intended to be a painter and an architect he did not attend university. Banville has described this as "A great mistake. I should have gone. I regret not taking that four years of getting drunk and falling in love. But I wanted to get away from my family. I wanted to be free." After school he worked as a clerk at Aer Lingus
Aer Lingus
Aer Lingus Group Plc is the flag carrier of Ireland. It operates a fleet of Airbus aircraft serving Europe and North America. It is Ireland's oldest extant airline, and its second largest after low-cost rival Ryanair...

 which allowed him to travel at deeply discounted rates. He took advantage of this to travel in Greece and Italy. He lived in the United States during 1968 and 1969. On his return to Ireland he became a sub-editor at the Irish Press, rising eventually to the position of chief sub-editor. His first book, Long Lankin, was published in 1970.

After the Irish Press collapsed in 1995, he became a sub-editor at The Irish Times
The Irish Times
The Irish Times is an Irish daily broadsheet newspaper launched on 29 March 1859. The editor is Kevin O'Sullivan who succeeded Geraldine Kennedy in 2011; the deputy editor is Paul O'Neill. The Irish Times is considered to be Ireland's newspaper of record, and is published every day except Sundays...

. He was appointed literary editor in 1998. The Irish Times, too, suffered severe financial problems, and Banville was offered the choice of taking a redundancy package or working as a features department sub-editor. He left. Banville has been a regular contributor to The New York Review of Books
The New York Review of Books
The New York Review of Books is a fortnightly magazine with articles on literature, culture and current affairs. Published in New York City, it takes as its point of departure that the discussion of important books is itself an indispensable literary activity...

since 1990. In 1984, he was elected to the Irish arts association, Aosdána
Aosdána
Aosdána is an Irish association of Artists. It was created in 1981 on the initiative of a group of writers and with support from the Arts Council of Ireland. Membership, which is by invitation from current members, is limited to 250 individuals; before 2005 it was limited to 200...

, but resigned in 2001 so that some other artist might be allowed to receive the cnuas (annuity). He described himself in an interview with Argentine paper La Nacíón, as a West Brit. Banville also writes crime fiction
Crime fiction
Crime fiction is the literary genre that fictionalizes crimes, their detection, criminals and their motives. It is usually distinguished from mainstream fiction and other genres such as science fiction or historical fiction, but boundaries can be, and indeed are, blurred...

 under the pen name Benjamin Black, beginning with Christine Falls (2006). He was elected a Foreign Honorary Member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences
American Academy of Arts and Sciences
The American Academy of Arts and Sciences is an independent policy research center that conducts multidisciplinary studies of complex and emerging problems. The Academy’s elected members are leaders in the academic disciplines, the arts, business, and public affairs.James Bowdoin, John Adams, and...

 in 2007.

When The Book of Evidence
The Book of Evidence
The Book of Evidence is a 1989 novel by the Irish author John Banville. The book is narrated by Freddie Montgomery, a 38-year-old scientist, who murders a servant girl during an attempt to steal a painting from a neighbour...

was shortlisted for the 1989 Booker Prize, Banville said a friend whom he described as "a gentleman of the turf", instructed him "to bet on the other five shortlistees, saying it was a sure thing, since if I won the prize I would have the prize-money, and if I lost one of the others would win . . .But the thing baffled me and I never placed the bets. I doubt I'll be visiting Ladbrokes any time soon".

In 2011, Banville was awarded the Franz Kafka Prize
Franz Kafka Prize
The Franz Kafka Prize is an international literary award presented in honour of Franz Kafka, the German language novelist. The prize was first awarded in 2001 and is co-sponsored by the and the city of Prague, Czech Republic. At a presentation held annually at the end of October in the Old Town...

. Marcel Reich-Ranicki
Marcel Reich-Ranicki
Marcel Reich-Ranicki is a Polish-born German literary critic and member of the literary group Gruppe 47. He is regarded as one of the most influential contemporary literary critics in the field of German literature and therefore was in Germany often called the 'Pope of literature' .-Life:Marcel...

 and John Calder
John Calder
John Mackenzie Calder is a Canadian and Scottish publisher who founded Calder Publishing in 1949.-Biography:John Calder was a friend of Samuel Beckett, becoming the main publisher of his prose-texts in Britain after the success of Waiting for Godot on the London stage in 1955-56...

 featured on the jury. The award was worth $10,000. According to The Guardian
The Guardian
The Guardian, formerly known as The Manchester Guardian , is a British national daily newspaper in the Berliner format...

, Banville described the award "one of the ones one really wants to get. It's an old style prize and as an old codger it's perfect for me ... I've been wrestling with Kafka since I was an adolescent" and said his bronze statuette trophy "will glare at me from the mantelpiece". Wondering while receiving congratulations from Roddy Doyle
Roddy Doyle
Roddy Doyle is an Irish novelist, dramatist and screenwriter. Several of his books have been made into successful films, beginning with The Commitments in 1991. He won the Booker Prize in 1993....

 what sort of prize Kafka would have given had he been alive, Doyle said "It wouldn't have stayed still on the mantelpiece."

Private life

Banville has two adult sons with his wife, the American textile artist Janet Dunham. They met during his visit to San Francisco in 1968 where she was a student at the University of California, Berkeley
University of California, Berkeley
The University of California, Berkeley , is a teaching and research university established in 1868 and located in Berkeley, California, USA...

. Dunham described him during the writing process as being like "a murderer who's just come back from a particularly bloody killing". Banville has two daughters from his relationship with Patricia Quinn, former head of the Arts Council of Ireland
Arts Council of Ireland
The Arts Council of Ireland was founded in 1951 by the Government of Ireland to encourage interest in Irish art and channel to funding from the state to Irish artists and arts organisations...

.

Banville has a strong interest in animal rights, and is often featured in Irish media speaking out against vivisection in Irish university research.

In 2011, he offered to donate his brain to The Little Museum of Dublin "so visitors could marvel at how small it was".

Style

Banville is considered by critics as a master stylist of the English language, and his writing has been described as perfectly crafted, beautiful, dazzling. David Mehegan of the Boston Globe calls Banville "one of the great stylists writing in English today"; Don DeLillo
Don DeLillo
Don DeLillo is an American author, playwright, and occasional essayist whose work paints a detailed portrait of American life in the late 20th and early 21st centuries...

 described his work "dangerous and clear-running prose"; Val Nolan in The Sunday Business Post
The Sunday Business Post
The Sunday Business Post is an Irish national Sunday newspaper published by Post Publications Limited. Post Publications is owned by Thomas Crosbie Holdings. According to the Audit Bureau of Circulations, Ireland, the average weekly circulation was 57,783 for the period January to June 2009. The...

calls his style "lyrical, fastidious, and occasionally hilarious"; The Observer
The Observer
The Observer is a British newspaper, published on Sundays. In the same place on the political spectrum as its daily sister paper The Guardian, which acquired it in 1993, it takes a liberal or social democratic line on most issues. It is the world's oldest Sunday newspaper.-Origins:The first issue,...

described his 1989 work The Book of Evidence
The Book of Evidence
The Book of Evidence is a 1989 novel by the Irish author John Banville. The book is narrated by Freddie Montgomery, a 38-year-old scientist, who murders a servant girl during an attempt to steal a painting from a neighbour...

as "flawlessly flowing prose whose lyricism, patrician irony and aching sense of loss are reminiscent of Lolita
Lolita
Lolita is a novel by Vladimir Nabokov, first written in English and published in 1955 in Paris and 1958 in New York, and later translated by the author into Russian...

." Banville himself has admitted that he is "trying to blend poetry and fiction into some new form". Banville is known for his dark humour, and sharp, wintery wit.

Banville has written two trilogies; The Revolutions Trilogy, consisting of Doctor Copernicus, Kepler, The Newton Letter and a second unnamed trilogy consisting of The Book of Evidence
The Book of Evidence
The Book of Evidence is a 1989 novel by the Irish author John Banville. The book is narrated by Freddie Montgomery, a 38-year-old scientist, who murders a servant girl during an attempt to steal a painting from a neighbour...

, Ghosts
Ghosts (1993 novel)
Ghosts is a novel by Irish author John Banville. Published in 1993, it was the first novel by the author since the publication of The Book of Evidence , which was shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize, and features many of the same characters...

, Athena.

Banville is highly scathing of all of his work, stating of his books "I hate them all ... I loathe them. They're all a standing embarrassment." Instead of dwelling on the past Banville is continually looking forward; "You have to crank yourself up every morning and think about all the awful stuff you did yesterday, and how you can compensate for that by doing better today." He writes only about a hundred words a day for his literary novels, versus several thousand words a day for his Benjamin Black crime fiction. He appreciates his work as Black as a craft, while as Banville he is an artist, though he does consider crime-writing, in his own words, as being "cheap fiction".

Banville and Black, each on the other

Banville is highly influenced by Heinrich von Kleist
Heinrich von Kleist
Bernd Heinrich Wilhelm von Kleist was a poet, dramatist, novelist and short story writer. The Kleist Prize, a prestigious prize for German literature, is named after him.- Life :...

, having written adaptations of three of his plays (including Amphitrion) and having again used Amphitrion as a basis for his novel The Infinities
The Infinities
The Infinities is a 2009 novel by the Irish writer John Banville.-Plot introduction:The book involves a reunion of the Godley family as the family patriarch, Adam, lies in a coma on his deathbed. The book takes place in an alternative reality with the world powered by cold fusion and steam trains...

. One of Banville's earlier influences was James Joyce
James Joyce
James Augustine Aloysius Joyce was an Irish novelist and poet, considered to be one of the most influential writers in the modernist avant-garde of the early 20th century...

 – "After I'd read the Dubliners
Dubliners
Dubliners is a collection of 15 short stories by James Joyce, first published in 1914. They were meant to be a naturalistic depiction of Irish middle class life in and around Dublin in the early years of the 20th century....

, and was struck at the way Joyce wrote about real life, I immediately started writing bad imitations of the Dubliners."

Awards

Year Prize Work
1976 James Tait Black Memorial Prize
James Tait Black Memorial Prize
Founded in 1919, the James Tait Black Memorial Prizes are among the oldest and most prestigious book prizes awarded for literature written in the English language and are Britain's oldest literary awards...

Doctor Copernicus
1981 Guardian Fiction Prize Kepler
Allied Irish Bank Fiction Prize Kepler
American-Irish Foundation Award Birchwood
1989 Guinness Peat Aviation
Guinness Peat Aviation
Guinness Peat Aviation was a Commercial Aircraft Sales and Leasing company set up in 1975 by Aer Lingus, the Guinness Peat Group and Tony Ryan, then an Aer Lingus executive.-History:...

 Award
The Book of Evidence
The Book of Evidence
The Book of Evidence is a 1989 novel by the Irish author John Banville. The book is narrated by Freddie Montgomery, a 38-year-old scientist, who murders a servant girl during an attempt to steal a painting from a neighbour...

Booker Prize (shortlisted) The Book of Evidence
2005 Booker Prize The Sea
The Sea (novel)
- Plot summary:The story is told by Max Morden, a self-aware, retired art historian attempting to reconcile himself to the deaths of those whom he loved as a child and as an adult....

2006 Irish Book Awards
Irish Book Awards
The Irish Book Awards is an annual Irish literary award given to books and authors in various categories. It is the only literary award supported by all-Irish bookstores. First awarded in 2006, they grew out of the Hughes & Hughes bookstore's Irish Novel of the Year Prize which was inaugurated in...

 Novel of the Year
The Sea
The Sea (novel)
- Plot summary:The story is told by Max Morden, a self-aware, retired art historian attempting to reconcile himself to the deaths of those whom he loved as a child and as an adult....

2007 Royal Society of Literature
Royal Society of Literature
The Royal Society of Literature is the "senior literary organisation in Britain". It was founded in 1820 by George IV, in order to "reward literary merit and excite literary talent". The Society's first president was Thomas Burgess, who later became the Bishop of Salisbury...

 Fellowship
Prix Madeleine Zepter
2009 Honorary Patronage of the University Philosophical Society
2011 Franz Kafka Prize
Franz Kafka Prize
The Franz Kafka Prize is an international literary award presented in honour of Franz Kafka, the German language novelist. The prize was first awarded in 2001 and is co-sponsored by the and the city of Prague, Czech Republic. At a presentation held annually at the end of October in the Old Town...


Novels

  • Nightspawn (1971)
  • Birchwood (1973)
  • The Revolutions Trilogy :
    • Doctor Copernicus: A Novel (1976)
    • Kepler, a Novel (1981)
    • The Newton Letter: An Interlude (1982)
  • Mefisto (1986)
  • The Book of Evidence
    The Book of Evidence
    The Book of Evidence is a 1989 novel by the Irish author John Banville. The book is narrated by Freddie Montgomery, a 38-year-old scientist, who murders a servant girl during an attempt to steal a painting from a neighbour...

    (1989)
  • Ghosts
    Ghosts (1993 novel)
    Ghosts is a novel by Irish author John Banville. Published in 1993, it was the first novel by the author since the publication of The Book of Evidence , which was shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize, and features many of the same characters...

    (1993)
  • Athena: A Novel (1995)
  • The Ark (1996) (only 260 copies published)
  • The Untouchable
    The Untouchable (novel)
    The Untouchable is a 1997 novel by the Irish author John Banville. The book is written as a roman à clef, presented from the point of view of the art historian, double agent and homosexual Victor Maskell—a character based on the life of Cambridge spy Anthony Blunt, as well as on elements from the...

    (1997)
  • Eclipse (2000)
  • Shroud
    Shroud (novel)
    Shroud is a 2003 novel by John Banville.-Plot summary:Axel Vander, famous man of letters and recently widowed, travels to Turin to meet a young woman called Cass Cleave...

    (2002)
  • Prague Pictures: Portrait Of A City (2003)
  • The Sea
    The Sea (novel)
    - Plot summary:The story is told by Max Morden, a self-aware, retired art historian attempting to reconcile himself to the deaths of those whom he loved as a child and as an adult....

    (2005)
  • The Infinities
    The Infinities
    The Infinities is a 2009 novel by the Irish writer John Banville.-Plot introduction:The book involves a reunion of the Godley family as the family patriarch, Adam, lies in a coma on his deathbed. The book takes place in an alternative reality with the world powered by cold fusion and steam trains...

    (2009)

Plays

  • The Broken Jug: After Heinrich von Kleist
    Heinrich von Kleist
    Bernd Heinrich Wilhelm von Kleist was a poet, dramatist, novelist and short story writer. The Kleist Prize, a prestigious prize for German literature, is named after him.- Life :...

    (1994)
  • Seachange (performed 1994 in the Focus Theatre
    Focus Theatre
    The Focus Theatre in Dublin is a small but respected theatre which offers a variety of plays from new and established writers.The theatre was founded in 1967 by the late Deirdre O'Connell, and opened on 29 September with a production of Doris Lessing's Play With a Tiger.The Focus Theatre has been...

    , Dublin; unpublished)
  • Dublin 1742 (performed 2002 in The Ark, Dublin; a play for 9–14 year olds; unpublished)
  • God's Gift: A Version of Amphitryon by Heinrich von Kleist (2000)
  • Love In The Wars (adaptation of Heinrich von Kleist's Penthesilea
    Penthesilea
    Penthesilea or Penthesileia was an Amazonian queen in Greek mythology, the daughter of Ares and Otrera and the sister of Hippolyta, Antiope and Melanippe...

    , 2005)
  • Conversation In The Mountains (radio play, forthcoming 2008)

As "Benjamin Black"

  • Christine Falls (2006)
  • The Silver Swan (2007)
  • The Lemur (2008, previously serialised in The New York Times
    The New York Times
    The New York Times is an American daily newspaper founded and continuously published in New York City since 1851. The New York Times has won 106 Pulitzer Prizes, the most of any news organization...

    )
  • Elegy for April (2010)
  • A Death In Summer (2011)

Book Reviews

  • "The Family Pinfold" The New York Review of Books
    The New York Review of Books
    The New York Review of Books is a fortnightly magazine with articles on literature, culture and current affairs. Published in New York City, it takes as its point of departure that the discussion of important books is itself an indispensable literary activity...

    54/11 (28 June 2007) : 20–21 [reviews Alexander Waugh
    Alexander Waugh
    Alexander Waugh is an English writer, critic, composer, cartoonist, record producer and television presenter. He is most known for his biography of Paul Wittgenstein published in 2009....

    , Fathers and Sons : the Autobiography of a Family]
  • "Trump Cards" Bookforum (Dec/Jan 2010) : John Banville on The Original of Laura, Nabokov
    Nabokov
    Nabokov may refer to:* Vladimir Vladimirovich Nabokov , Russian-American author, entomologist, and chess problem composer* Vladimir Dmitrievich Nabokov , Russian criminologist, journalist, and liberal politician, and father of Vladimir Vladimirovich Nabokov* Nicolas Nabokov , Russian-American...

    's final, unfinished novel.

Screenwriter

Year Title Awards
2011 Albert Nobbs
Albert Nobbs
Albert Nobbs is a film starring Glenn Close and directed by Rodrigo García. The screenplay is based on a short story by Irish novelist George Moore.- Plot :Glenn Close plays a woman passing as a man in order to work and survive in 19th century Ireland...

2011 Be Crazy For Me And My Father

Further reading

  • John Banville by John Kenny; Irish Academic Press (2009); ISBN 0-7165-2909-1
  • John Banville, a critical study by Joseph McMinn; Gill and MacMillan; ISBN 0-7171-1803-7
  • The Supreme Fictions of John Banville by Joseph McMinn; (October 1999); Manchester University Press; ISBN 0-7190-5397-8
  • John Banville: A Critical Introduction by Rüdiger Imhoff (October 1998) Irish American Book Co; ISBN 0-86327-582-6
  • John Banville: Exploring Fictions by Derek Hand; (June 2002); Liffey Press; ISBN 1-904148-04-2
  • Irish University Review: A Journal of Irish Studies: Special Issue John Banville Edited by Derek Hand; (June 2006)
  • Irish Writers on Writing featuring John Banville. Edited by Eavan Boland
    Eavan Boland
    -Biography:Boland's father, Frederick Boland, was a career diplomat and her mother, Frances Kelly, was a noted post-expressionist painter. She was born in Dublin in 1944. At the age of six, Boland's father was appointed Irish Ambassador to the United Kingdom; the family followed him to London,...

     (Trinity University Press, 2007).

External links

The source of this article is wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.  The text of this article is licensed under the GFDL.
 
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