Zimbabwean noir writer goes international

Paula Hawkins

Ex-Zimbabwean novelist Paula Hawkins in the Guardian:

“I’m aware that [Rhodesia\ was an incredibly iniquitous society. I wasn’t conscious of that as a child, but by the time I was, things were changing and then I left when I was 17 anyway. I am aware that my very nice childhood came at a cost to other people.”

The Girl on the Train has had a dizzying rise, and among all the so-called domestic noir books that are now excitedly talked about as the new Gone Girls, it may be the closest thing. Or at least the sales are (in fact, it is outpacing Gillian Flynn’s mega-seller). It has sold more than 120,000 copies in hardback since January, and sales of ebooks and copies in other countries are at around 2m. The US market has taken to it especially – the book has been at the top of the New York Times bestseller list for 13 weeks, and the film rights have been bought by DreamWorks.

Does she think women approach psychological thrillers differently?

“It’s difficult to say. I certainly think there is this domestic noir trend, but there are plenty of men who write in that as well. I think perhaps women are less interested in spies and serial killers and are more interested – I certainly am – in everyday domestic dramas and real threats. Men tend to be attacked by strangers, women tend to be attacked by people they know.” Most women, she points out, “are made to think about themselves in terms of what they should be doing to prevent violence happening to them”.

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