On 5 November, The Crime Writers Association (CWA) celebrated sixty years of supporting and promoting the work of writers in one of the most popular of literary genres, one that has a staggering capacity for reinventing itself. Here, Ali Karim of Shots eZine reviews the party held to mark this historic anniversary.
On the night of their 60th birthday party, CWA members gathered together with other crime fans at Foyles books on Charing Cross Road. The Shots mag team of Mike Stotter, Ayo Onatade and I took our seats on the top floor of Foyles’ events room.
The current CWA chair, writer and broadcaster Alison Joseph, welcomed the assembled on a windy autumn evening, while a glass of wine took away some of the chill. CWA director Lucy Santos had brought with her the Crime Writers Association award book, which was available for people to view the award-winners, runners-up and their signatures in this fascinating archive for the crime fiction enthusiast.
Alison then revealed the hotly anticipated results of the CWA poll to find the greatest crime writer, crime series and crime novel:
WINNER Best Ever Novel
The Murder of Roger Ackroyd by Agatha Christie
WINNER Best Ever Author
WINNER Best Ever Crime Series
The real highlight, though, was an entertaining session chaired by the writer and literary critic Barry Forshaw, discussing and dissecting the genre’s ‘greats’ with fellow writers David Stuart Davies, Belinda Bauer and Zoe Sharp.
Barry was somewhat mischievous as he played Devil’s advocate, citing some of the criticisms that are often directed at the masters: that, for example, Agatha Christie wrote puzzle books; much of Raymond Chandler’s work had no discernible plot; and Thomas Harris was solely responsible for the glut of serial-killer novels.
The session was highly amusing, given that some of the attendees appeared unfamiliar with Barry’s style (and intention), and probably felt he was somewhat unkind to their ‘sacred cows’.
As a crime fiction book reviewer, I find that I need to read classics as well as contemporary work, to keep my reading in some form of context and perspective. With The Murder Room Orion, as one of the pre-eminent publishers in the genre, is among those keeping its classics alive as ebooks, as well as physical editions, alongside the work of their contemporary authors.
So, which classics are you exploring?
If you enjoyed this piece, may we suggest you check out The Crime Readers Association, which is supported by The Crime Writers Association and has many features for the crime / mystery / thriller enthusiast.
The CWA 60th anniversary evening was made possible by the generous sponsorship of accountancy firm HW Fisher Ltd, as well as assistance from Foyles bookshop and of course the efforts of the CWA Committee.
Ali Karim is Assistant Editor at Shots eZine, a contributing editor at January Magazine and The Rap Sheet and writes for Crimespree Magazine, Deadly Pleasures, Strand Magazine and Mystery Readers International. He is an associate member of the Crime Writers Association (CWA), International Thriller Writers (ITW) and the Private Eye Writers of America (PWA).
He is a judge on the Barry Awards Committee at Deadly Pleasures Magazine, a reserve judge for the ITW and a Gold Dagger judge for the CWA. At the Anthony Awards held at Bouchercon St Louis, Karim was presented with the 2011 David Thompson Memorial Award for Special Services to the Crime and Thriller Genre. At Bouchercon 2013 in Albany, he was presented with the Don Sandstrom Memorial Award for Lifetime Achievement in supporting the crime and mystery genre. He is also a board member at Bouchercon World Mystery Convention and programming chair for Bouchercon 2015 in Raleigh, North Carolina.
Karim contributed to Dissecting Hannibal Lecter (ed. Benjamin Szumskyj, McFarland Press) a critical examination of the works of Thomas Harris; The Greenwood Encyclopedia of British Crime Fiction (ed. Barry Forshaw) and the Edgar and Anthony Award-nominated ITW 100 Thriller Novels (eds David Morrell and Hank Hagner, Oceanview Publishing).