Bio-Benjamin Black

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Christine Falls

Benjamin Black

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Benjamin Black (John Banville)

John Banville (born 8 December 1945) is an Irish novelist and journalist. His novel, The Book of Evidence (1989), was shortlisted for the Booker Prize, and won the Guinness Peat Aviation Award. His eighteenth novel, The Sea, won the Man Booker Prize in 2005.

Banville is known for his precise—some would say cold—prose style, Nabokovian in inventiveness, and for the dark humour of his generally arch narrators. Banville's stated ambition is to give his prose "the kind of denseness and thickness that poetry has".

Banville was born in Wexford, Ireland. His father worked in a garage and died when John was in his early thirties; his mother was a housewife. Banville 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.

Educated at a Christian Brothers' school and at St Peter's College in Wexford, he did not attend university. After school he worked as a clerk at Aer Lingus which allowed him to travel at deeply-discounted rates. He lived in the United States in 1968-9. 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, appeared 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 Aosdána, but resigned in 2001, so that some other artist might be allowed to receive the cnuas. He also writes under the pen name Benjamin Black. His first novel under this pen name was Christine Falls, which is rumored to be the first in a series.
He has two adult sons by his wife, the American textile artist Janet Dunham. They met during his visit to San Francisco in 1968 where she was a student at the University of California, Berkeley. His wife described him during the writing process as being like "a murderer who's just come back from a particularly bloody killing."

Banville has two daughters aged 10 and 17 from a relationship with Patricia Quinn, former head of the Arts Council of Ireland. He lives in central Dublin.

John Banville is considered by critics as a master stylist of the English language, and his writing has been described as perfectly-crafted, beautiful, dazzling. David Mehegan of the Boston Globe calls Banville "one of the great stylists writing in English today;" Don DeLillo calls his work "dangerous and clear-running prose;" and the UK Observer described his 1989 work, The Book of Evidence, as "flawlessly flowing prose whose lyricism, patrician irony and aching sense of loss are reminiscent of Lolita."

He is also known for his dark humour, and sharp wit.

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