John Banville

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John Banville (2019)

John Banville (born December 8, 1945 in Wexford , Ireland ) is an Irish writer and English-language literary critic. In 2005 he received the Man Booker Prize for his novel Die See . He also writes detective novels under the pseudonym Benjamin Black .


John Banville, son of Agnes and Martin Banville, grew up in the southeast of Ireland in humble circumstances. He attended Christian Brother's Catholic School and St. Peter's College in Wexford. He started writing short stories when he was fifteen. After graduating from college, he worked for an airline, the British Post and a publishing company. In 1968 and 1969 he lived in the USA . On his return he worked as a journalist for the Irish Press newspaper in Dublin . He also wrote short stories and book reviews. His first novel Long Lankin was published in 1970. Banville made a name for himself as a literary critic during this time. From 1988 to 1999 he was editor of the literary section of the Irish Times . In 1984 he became a member of the Irish Art Association , of which he was a member until 2011. Since then he has been working as a freelance author and literary critic .

Banville's literary breakthrough came in 1976 with his third novel Doctor Copernikus , for which he was awarded the James Tait Black Memorial Prize . The book was published in Germany in 1999. Other novels followed, all of which received great international attention. Had his greatest success, however, John Banville for his novel The Sea ( The Sea ), for which he received the 2005 Man Booker Prize was awarded. He has also been writing detective novels for several years under the pseudonym Benjamin Black. In addition to a series about the pathologist Quirke, he wrote a novel in 2014 with the classic private detective Philip Marlowe . John Banville has received many literary awards. He is a member of Aosdána and the Royal Society of Literature . The author lives and works in Dublin.


In Banville's novels, the focus is mostly on men, often of an advanced age, who look back at their lives or realize life-changing experiences. However, the works rarely focus on (the perfectly traceable and well-described) courses of action or externalities, instead the focus is often on the (non-) experience of reality by the individual. Readers are often left in the dark about the reality, unreality, truth, lies and fantasy of the narrative elements, partly because the narrator is / seems to be in the dark about them. Banville once remarked that this was his personal path between the greats of Irish literature , Samuel Beckett , who told "nothing", and James Joyce , who told "all". He tells a story himself, only to remove reality and ground from it. In this respect, the author walks a fine line where existential experience and experimental dramaturgy come together.

With the publication of his novel Doctor Copernicus , Banville begins a series of books (e.g. Kepler , Mefisto or Newton's letter ) that deal with the life and work of scientists and their ideas. In these novels his tendency for dark, mysterious characters can already be seen. This becomes even clearer in his trilogy , which consists of the works The Book of Evidence , Spirits and Athena . She tells “about the murderer Freddie Montgomery, a villain of Nabokovian dimensions, who narrates from a first-person perspective.” In addition to Vladimir Nabokov , the two great Irish writers Samuel Beckett and James Joyce are the godfathers of Banville's works.


John Banville has received numerous awards. The first in 1976 for Doctor Copernicus and the Guardian Fiction Award for Kepler . In 1981 Kepler was honored again with the Allied Irish Bank Fiction Prize . In 1989 he received the Guinness Peat Aviation Award for The Book of Evidence , which was also shortlisted for the £ 50,000 Booker Prize. In 2005 he was awarded the Man Booker Prize for his novel finally The Sea (The Sea) and a year later for the same novel, the Irish Book Awards . In the justification of the Booker Prize jury, it was said that the work was a “masterly study of grief, memory and love recollected”. He has been an honorary external member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences since 2007 and of the American Academy of Arts and Letters since 2014 . In 2010 Banville received the Kerry Group Irish Fiction Award for The Infinities , in 2011 the Franz Kafka Literature Prize and in 2012 another Irish Book Award for the novel Ancient Light . In 2013 he was awarded the Austrian State Prize for European Literature and received the Irish Book Lifetime Achievement Award. For 2014 he was awarded the Prince of Asturias Prize .

Works (selection)


Stage plays

  • 1994 The Broken Jug: After Kleist (based on Kleist's Der zerbrochne Krug )
  • 2000 God's Gift: A Version of Amphitryon by Heinrich von Kleist (based on Kleist's Amphitryon )
  • 2005 Love In The Wars (based on Kleist's Penthesilea )

Detective novels under the pseudonym Benjamin Black

  • Not free from sin , Cologne, Kiepenheuer & Witsch 2007. ISBN 3-462-03768-4
  • The silver swan , Cologne, Kiepenheuer & Witsch 2009. ISBN 978-3-462-04014-2
  • Der Lemur , Reinbek near Hamburg, Rowohlt 2010. ISBN 978-3-499-25321-8
  • A woman disappears . Translated by Andrea O'Brien . Köln, Kiepenheuer & Witsch 2012, ISBN 978-3-462-04467-6 (Original title: Elegy for April , London, Pan Macmillan, 2011)
  • The blonde with the black eyes. A Philip Marlowe novel , Cologne, Kiepenheuer & Witsch 2015, ISBN 978-3-462-04740-0 (Original title: The Black-Eyed Blonde , London, Pan Macmillan, 2014)
  • Death in summer . Translated by Andrea O'Brien. Köln, Kiepenheuer & Witsch 2016, ISBN 978-3-462-04653-3 (Original title: A Death in Summer , London, Pan Macmillan, 2011)
  • Alchemy of a murderous night . Translated by Elke Link, Cologne, Kiepenheuer & Witsch 2018, ISBN 978-3-462-04919-0 (Original title: Prague Nights , Viking, 2017)


Web links

Commons : John Banville  - Collection of Pictures, Videos and Audio Files

Individual evidence

  1. a b c Literature Festival
  2. ^ The time of August 31, 2006
  3. Book of Members 1780 – present, Chapter B. (PDF; 1.2 MB) In: American Academy of Arts and Sciences ( Accessed March 5, 2019 .
  4. ^ Honorary Members: John Banville. American Academy of Arts and Letters, accessed March 5, 2019 .
  5. ^ The Guardian of May 26, 2011: Kafka Prize for Banville
  6. ^ John Banville is the winner of the Austrian State Prize for European Literature 2013 . APA-OTS. July 25, 2013. Retrieved September 20, 2013.
  7. Irish writer John Banville receives Prince of Asturias Award , Der Standard, June 4, 2014, accessed July 7, 2014
  8. ^ Review by Rainer Moritz in Deutschlandradio Kultur on February 14, 2012: "People and Gods next to each other" John Banville: "Infinities"