Vincent Banville

Life
1940- [pseud. ‘Vincent Lawrence’]; b. Wexford; br. of John Banville; ed. UCD; taught in Nigeria for five years; works as literary journalist in Dublin; freq. reviewer of children’s books in Irish Times; first pseudonymous novel, An End to Flight (1973), follows an Irish protagonist through Nigerian civil war; others published under his own name incl. Death by Design (1993), and Death of the Pale Rider (1995), both thrillers set in Dublin; Hennessy to the Rescue (1995), for children; writes Paperback Crimefile reviews, for The Irish Times. DIL

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Works
Fiction, [as Vincent Lawrence,] An End to Flight (London: Faber & Faber 1973), and Do. [rep edn] (Dublin: New Island Press 2002), 235pp.; [as Vincent Banville,] Death by Design (Dublin: Wolfhound Press 1993), and Death of the Pale Rider (Dublin: Poolbeg 1995), 248pp. Children’s Fiction, Hennessy to the Rescue (Dublin: Poolbeg 1995)

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Criticism
H. M. Buckley, ‘Thriller Minutes’, rev. of Death of the Pale Rider, Books Ireland (Dec. 1995), p.326.

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Commentary
Colm Tóibín, ‘Back to a dark Bafrian drama’, review of An End to Flight, in The Irish Times (21 Dec. 2002) [rep. edn.]: novel set during the Biafran war; tells story of Irish expatriate teacher Painter in remote school as war begins; ‘a relentlessly dark book dramatising, Painter’s listless and lascivious self and his profoundly anti-heroic stance as much any version of the war or the fate of Biafra’; also ‘a heroic priest’; written with ‘enormous skill’. Tóibínquotes: “[the war was] full of noise and fury and high-flown proclamations of defeats and victories, but at the centre it was hollow. It was a small, mean war, and the appearance and the sound of the guns caused more destruction than the actual shells that they fired [...] In the beginning, the dream of nationhood had hovered bright and steadfast, and perhaps the leaders still believed in it, but now after almost a year of the reality of war the people saw the dream for what it had become [...]” Further remarks: Banville ‘create[s ...] a sort of quest in an evil hour for the right terms and the right motives to achieve salvation, or, more mundanely, survival. [...] The dialogue is, by necessity, stilted and at times awkward. [...] The genuine power of the novel comes from Banville’s skill at creating dramatic scenes, some of them unforgettable in their tension. [... &c.]’

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