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  • Date of birth : 08/12/1945



  • Banville John


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John Banville (1945)

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John Banville is an Irish novelist and screenwriter.

Banville's breakthrough novel The Book of Evidence was shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize, and won the Guinness Peat Aviation award. His eighteenth novel, The Sea, won the Man Booker Prize in 2005. He was awarded the Franz Kafka Prize in 2011. He also writes crime fiction under the pseudonym Benjamin Black.

Banville is known for his precise, cold, forensic 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".

He is a perennial contender for the Nobel Prize in Literature.


He was born William John Banville in Wexford, Ireland to Agnes (née Doran) and Martin Banville. 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. His sister Anne Veronica "Vonnie" Banville-Evans has written both a children's novel and a reminiscence of growing up in Wexford.

Banville was educated at a Christian Brothers school and at St Peter's College, Wexford. Despite having intended to be a painter and an architect he did not attend university. Banville has described this as "A great mistake. I should have gone. I regret not taking that four years of getting drunk and falling in love. But I wanted to get away from my family. I wanted to be free." 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, 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 the Irish arts association, Aosdána, but resigned in 2001 so that some other artist might be allowed to receive the cnuas . He described himself in an interview with Argentine paper La Nacíón, as a West Brit. Banville also writes crime fiction under the pen name Benjamin Black, beginning with Christine Falls . He was elected a Foreign Honorary Member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences in 2007.

When The Book of Evidence was shortlisted for the 1989 Booker Prize, Banville said a friend whom he described as "a gentleman of the turf", instructed him "to bet on the other five shortlistees, saying it was a sure thing, since if I won the prize I would have the prize-money, and if I lost one of the others would win . . .But the thing baffled me and I never placed the bets. I doubt I'll be visiting Ladbrokes any time soon".

In 2011, Banville was awarded the Franz Kafka Prize. Marcel Reich-Ranicki and John Calder featured on the jury. The award was worth $10,000. According to The Guardian, Banville described the award "one of the ones one really wants to get. It's an old style prize and as an old codger it's perfect for me ... I've been wrestling with Kafka since I was an adolescent" and said his bronze statuette trophy "will glare at me from the mantelpiece". Wondering while receiving congratulations from Roddy Doyle what sort of prize Kafka would have given had he been alive, Doyle said "It wouldn't have stayed still on the mantelpiece."

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Whole or part of the information contained in this card come from the Wikipedia article "John Banville", licensed under CC-BY-SA full list of contributors here.