Autoren, Verleger und Übersetzer geben in dieser Reihe Antwort auf die vermeintlich einfache Frage: Was ist Noir? In dieser Ausgabe hat der australische Schriftsteller Gary Disher geantwortet, der hierzulande insbesondere fĂŒr seine Challis- und Wyatt-Romane bekannt ist.

Als Student lernte Garry Disher die Noir-Tradition kennen. Er sah Filme wie „Double Indemnity“, durch die er auf Autoren wie Jim Thompson gestoßen ist. Seiner Meinung nach fĂŒhlen sich so viele Menschen von Noir angesprochen, weil die Filme und Romane bestimmte Wahrheiten ĂŒber das Leben enthalten: Es gibt keine Gewissheit, gute Menschen verhalten sich schlecht, die falschen Menschen gewinnen, die Grenze zwischen gut und böse, richtig und falsch ist verschwommen. Außerdem gibt es in jedem von uns eine Dunkelheit. Und fĂŒr Kriminalschriftsteller ist diese Dunkelheit wichtig: Sie mĂŒssen sich ihr stellen. Verbrechen ist eine ernste Angelegenheit und muss als solches auch behandelt. Deshalb verabscheut er leichte Kriminalliteratur, in der scheinbar niemand zu Schaden kommt.


I was a student when I became aware of the noir tradition in films and novels. Out of the Past (1946), Double Indemnity (1944) and The Killers (1946) were shown by the university film society one year, and I was deeply affected by their dark undercurrents and moral ambiguities. The films led me to authors such as Jim Thompson, David Goodis, William P. McGivern, James M. Cain and Richard Stark (whose Parker novels influenced my Wyatt novels).

I think that noir novels and films are so powerful, and speak to so many people, because they contain certain truths about life. Moral certainty can never work; good people behave badly; resolutions are never tidy, final or absolute but messy and inadequate; someone always misses out; someone is always hurt; the wrong people win; the line between good and bad and right and wrong is blurred; there is no happy-ever-after; we are forever struggling against self-destructiveness; there is a blackness in us all.
That last truth, there is a blackness in us all: I think it’s the key element for a crime writer. Most of us will never murder the person who betrayed us, or pull the perfect robbery, but writers must know that they are capable of these things, they must imagine, and to do that they must be able to step without cringing into the dark corners of themselves.

Noir means black, dark. That’s appropriate, for real crime is not a sunny matter. A criminal act results from a darkness in a person or a society. The act itself may be dark. And the repercussions (too often unacknowledged) on victim and loved ones may be utterly dark and destructive.

So, crime is serious, and should be treated seriously in films and novels. I hate the type of light and sweet crime fiction that is so popular, in which no one is hurt, or in which the murder doesn’t matter because we never see the blood or care about the victim, in which there is no sense of the social tensions that might give rise to a crime, in which settings are exotic and characters rich and gorgeous, in which there are no ambiguities, and in which the crime-fighting hero is a cat or a dog.

Sometimes readers ask me, ‘How can you write about such terrible things?’ There is only one response: ‘Didn’t you read the newspaper this morning?’

Garry Disher (c) 08/2015

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