Friday, March 05, 2010

“I Live in ... an Extremely Violent Country”

From a Spinetingler Magazine interview with Roger Smith, the author of Wake Up Dead (Henry Holt), conducted by Keith Rawson:
I’ve always loved crime fiction, especially the edgy American stuff. As a teenager I lapped up the Parker series by Richard Stark/ Donald Westlake, Jim Thompson’s dark opuses, as well as the early, gritty, work of Elmore Leonard.

I always wanted to write crime, but I grew up in apartheid South Africa, and the quickest route to irrelevancy in the ’80s and ’90s would have been writing crime fiction. So I founded a non-racial movie co-operative that produced anti-apartheid films, and did what little I could to oppose the sick bastards who ran my country back then.

Thankfully, apartheid ended by the mid-’90s, and South Africa went from being pariah of the world to everybody’s darling under Nelson Mandela. Unfortunately, the bubble burst when Mandela moved on: crime and corruption replaced apartheid as our number one social ill. We now have the highest homicide statistics in the world. One in four South African women will be raped in her lifetime, and children are raped and murdered at a rate that defies belief. South Africa’s top cop--still commissioner of police and head of Interpol at the time of his arrest--is on trial for racketeering and taking bribes from organized crime.

So writing crime set in South Africa isn’t only relevant now, for me it’s about the only way to stay sane.
You’ll find the full piece here.

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