A convention of literary elements in thrillers & thrillers ingredients in literary novels

Where lays the borderline between literary novels and genre novels? What happens when a literary novel “borrows” elements usually applied in thrillers? At what point do you call that novel a thriller? And vice versa; when can a thriller be considered to be literary?

Saturday the 7th of November 2015, De Vereniging van Schrijvers en Vertalers and Het Genootschap van Nederlandstalige Misdaadauteurs organized an event where literary authors, crime authors and translators met to discuss this topic. Thriller writer Charles den Tex and literary author Nausicaa Marbe where interviewed about their opinion form the author’s point of view, and I was asked to complement the discussion with my professional opinion. Both authors recently published a novel which crosses the border between genres. Charles den Tex wrote the (historical) novel Het vergeten verhaal van een onwankelbare liefde in oorlogstijd. Marbe’s last novel (Smeergeld) has been published as a literary novel, but has a lot of thriller ingredients. Her book is strongly plot driven; an element usually characteristic for thrillers. Literary critic Persis Bekkering stated in her review in De Volkskrant that Marbe’s novel actually can be read from several perspectives: the literary novel, the satire, the thriller and even the love story.

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In the interview my opinion was asked where the boundary lies between thrillers and literary novels. And although over the past three years I have examined several characteristics of the genres (focusing particularly on the characteristics of the literary thriller), I am afraid that for more or less one year, I have to leave the audience in suspense.

To be continued…