Peter Robinson is a familiar name on Arthur Ellis lists. Since winning the Best First Novel prize in 1988 for Gallows View, Peter has won three Best Novel awards and been nominated for another six. He has also been nominated for three Arthur Ellis short story awards, winning twice.
So Crime Writers of Canada, through its awards, has honoured Peter’s artistry as a storyteller and is now honouring his broader contribution to Canadian crime writing. Canadian, you say?
It’s true; Peter was born in Yorkshire and received a B.A. Honours in English from Leeds University. And yes, his novels, with one exception, are set in Yorkshire. And the press release for the DI Banks TV series now in production in England coyly refers to Peter as an “international” crime writer.
But we know he’s Canadian, don’t we? How else could he have won all those Canadian awards, not only the Arthur Ellis Awards but also an Authors Award from the Foundation for the Advancement of Canadian Letters in 1995 and the Grant Allen Award at the Wolfe Island Scene of the Crime Festival last summer? Not to mention the fact that he also served as President of CWC.
Sometimes writers have to get away from their familiar landscape to write about it well. So Peter came to Canada to study, taking an M.A. in English and Creative Writing from Windsor under the tutelage of Joyce Carol Oates, and a Ph.D. from York (though a Ph.D. can as often destroy creativity and writing skills as develop them). And then Peter gave us DI Alan Banks, the outsider, with an outsider’s struggles and an outsider’s perspective.
Long after Inspector Banks became a familiar name in Canada and the US, the novels began winning crime writing awards in France (2001), Sweden (2002), the UK (2002), and Denmark (2006). The novels have now been translated into 19 languages. With the advent of the television series, Inspector Banks—if not Peter Robinson—will become even more widely known. And so May 27, 2010, was a fitting time to present Peter with the Derrick Murdoch Award for putting Canadian crime writing on the world map.
By Kay Stewart