In Ireland right now there's a bit of a discussion going on about whether Irish writers are engaging with modern Ireland and one thing that's come out of it is this idea that crime fiction, despite being very contemporary, is entirely left out of the discussion.
Of course, we have this discussion all the time in Canada, beating ourselves up all the time because so much CanLit is stuck in an earlier time. It's not true, of course, there are plenty of contemporary Canadian novels fully engaged with "modern Canada," but like Ireland, crime fiction is entirely left out of the discussion.
An article in the Irish Times put it like this:
THE ASSASSINATION in 1986 of the Swedish prime minister Olaf Palme sent shockwaves through Sweden in particular and Scandinavia in general. One consequence was the emergence of an indigenous crime fiction, a phenomenon taken very seriously by cultural commentators in Sweden and Norway. Today, writers such as Henning Mankell, Stieg Larsson and Jo Nesbø are household names across the world.
(the full article is here)
So, what about Canada? We've had quite a few crimes send shockwaves through our country, from Paul and Karla Bernardo to the Picton murders to the latest arrest of a high ranking military man for two murders and a number of rapes. These are the kinds of crimes that might make us question ourselves in a way that literature could address - or a least start start the discussion.