Crime writers convention 'Kriminacht' comes to Vienna
PUBLISHED September 19, 2012
A clutch of the world's finest crime writers and tens of thousands of fans gathered in Vienna for 'Kriminacht', the night of the year where quiet creators of hardboiled detective tales are treated like rock stars.
The event, which translates as 'crime novel night', took place yesterday in a town well known for its cultured citizens, for whom a night in with the latest Eva Rossmann is as de rigueur as a Soho restaurant opening.
American crime writer Daniel Woodrell gave one of 63 readings in cafés across the city. The German-speaking audience's demand for his 2001 novel "The Death of Sweet Mister", recently translated into the language, is insatiable, according to the aptly-named Juergen Kill, of Munich-based publisher Liebeskind.
"We are seeing a boom everywhere. It appeals to all ages, to men and to women," he told AFP. And importantly for the publishing industry, "They are also read by people who read a lot of books."
Anything Scandinavian sells "insanely" well, Mr Kill added, following on from the enormous success of Sweden's Stieg Larsson, the late author of the incredibly successful "Millennium" trilogy, whose books have spawned a successful film franchise.
"There are lots of explanations for the phenomenon. One of them is that we live in highly technological time where everything is rationally organised, and that many people miss the dark, mysterious and the unexplained," Kill said.
Scottish "tartan noir" author Christopher Brookmyre also attended the event, hoping to capitalise on his popularity among German speakers after the release of "Wer schlafende Hunde weckt" (Where the Bodies Are Buried) in August.
Organisers aimed to beat last year's attendance figures of 27,000 people, who listened avidly to tales of grisly killings from US authors Mary Higgins Clark and Daniel Depp (half-brother of actor Johnny Depp) and Britain's Simon Beckett.
Crime writers regularly attract crowds big enough to fill music venues. Denmark's Jussi Adler-Olsen, whose books are a regular feature on the Spiegel bestseller list in Germany, had his reading moved to a cinema after the previous venue was completely sold out.
He was cheered like a pop star after reading from the latest on deputy detective superintendent Carl Mørck and his Department Q for unsolved crimes.
The event is also free of charge - except for the legendary Viennese cake and coffee and other refreshments - with corporate sponsors picking up the tab, organiser Franz Schubert said.
"The event is unique. Nowhere else do you have so many authors at so many locations, and on only one night," Schubert said. "People always ask me to extend it, but I think it would lose something."
In Germany, similar Kriminacht events are held in Munich and Berlin.