John Banville

John Banville

Infobox Writer

imagesize = 150px
name = John Banville
caption =
pseudonym = Benjamin Black
birthdate = birth date and age|1945|12|8|df=y
birthplace = Wexford, Ireland
deathdate =
deathplace =
occupation = novelist, playwright, journalist
nationality = Irish
period =
genre =
subject =
movement =
notableworks = The Book of Evidence, The Untouchable, The Sea
influences = Martin Heidegger, Vladimir Nabokov, Samuel Beckett, Henry James, Friedrich Nietzsche
influenced =
website =

John Banville (born 1945) is an Irish novelist and journalist. His novel, "The Book of Evidence" (1989), was shortlisted for the Booker Prize, and won the Guinness Peat Aviation award. His eighteenth novel, "The Sea", won the Man Booker Prize in 2005. He sometimes writes under the pseudonym Benjamin Black.

Banville is known for his precise and cold prose style, Nabokovian 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". [Steinberg, Sybil." [ Who Is John Banville?] ". Publishers Weekly, July, 1995. Retrieved on 21 January, 2007.]


Banville was born in Wexford, Ireland. His father worked in a garage and died when Banville was in his early thirties; his mother was a housewife. 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.

Educated at a Christian Brothers' school and at St Peter's College in Wexford, he did not attend university. After school he worked as a clerk at Aer Lingus 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, [" [ The day the Press stopped rolling] ". "Western People" (IRL), 25 May, 2005. Retrieved on 27 October, 2007.] he became a sub-editor at the "Irish Times". 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" since 1990. In 1984, he was elected to Aosdána, but resigned in 2001, [" [ Former Members of Aosdána] ". Aosdána. Retrieved on 27 October, 2007.] so that some other artist might be allowed to receive the "cnuas".

Banville also writes under the pen name Benjamin Black. [From a Radio 4 programme on 15th October 2007 in which Banville was interviewed.] His first novel under this pen name was "Christine Falls", which was followed by "The Silver Swan" in 2007. 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. Dunham described him during the writing process as being like "a murderer who's just come back from a particularly bloody killing". [Emma Brockes " [,,1590052,00.html 14th time lucky] ". "The Guardian", 12 October, 2005. Retrieved on 27 October, 2007.] Banville has two daughters from his relationship with Patricia Quinn, former head of the Arts Council of Ireland.


Banville is considered by critics as a master stylist of the English language, and his writing has been described as perfectly-crafted, beautiful, dazzling. [" [ Shroud] ". Random House, 2004. Retrieved on 27 October, 2007.] David Mehegan of the "Boston Globe" calls Banville "one of the great stylists writing in English today;" Don DeLillo calls his work "dangerous and clear-running prose;" and the UK "Observer" described his 1989 work, "The Book of Evidence", as "flawlessly flowing prose whose lyricism, patrician irony and aching sense of loss are reminiscent of "Lolita"." He is also known for his dark humour, and sharp wit. [" [,,-241,00.html John Banville (1945-)] ". "Guardian" (UK). Retrieved on 19 October, 2007.]


Year PrizeWork
1976James Tait Black Memorial Prize "Doctor Copernicus"
1981Guardian Fiction Prize "Kepler"
Allied Irish Bank Fiction Prize
American-Irish Foundation Award "Birchwood"
1989Guinness Peat Aviation Award "The Book of Evidence"
1989Booker Prize (shortlisted)"The Book of Evidence"
2005Booker Prize"The Sea"
2006Irish Book Awards Novel of the Year "The Sea"


hort story collection

* "Long Lankin" (1970; revised ed.1984)


* "Nightspawn" (1971)
* "Birchwood" (1973)
* "Doctor Copernicus: A Novel" (1976)
* "Kepler, a Novel" (1981)
* "The Newton Letter: An Interlude" (1982)
* "Mefisto" (1986)
* "The Book of Evidence" (1989)
* "Ghosts" (1993)
* "Athena: A Novel" (1995)
* "The Ark" (1996) (only 260 copies published)
* "The Untouchable" (1997)
* "Eclipse" (2000)
* "Shroud" (2002)
* "Prague Pictures: Portrait Of A City" (2003)
* "The Sea" (2005)
* "The Sinking City" (forthcoming [cite news|title= Manchester literary journal to publish new work by John Banville|url=|work= Crain's Manchester Business|date= 2008-10-01|accessdate= 2008-10-11] )


* "The Broken Jug: After Heinrich von Kleist" (1994)
* "Seachange" (performed 1994 in the Focus Theatre, 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, 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")


Further reading

* "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)

External links

* [ Benjamin Black's Official Website]
* [ Benjamin Black's Books on]
* [ Aosdána biographical note]
* [ As clear as mirror glass. John Banville in interview with Three Monkeys Online Magazine]
* [,trouble-is-his-business,389029,10.html John Banville interview with the Village Voice about Benjamin Black]
* [ Chapter 1 of "The Sinking City"]

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