Thanks for the introduction to a writer that’s new to me. If I understand the argument that prevents crime fiction from being taken more seriously, the issue is that plot-driven novels, by relying on plot to engage the reader, tend to obscure or evade the development of deeper literary concerns.
You’re not going to get Moby Dick in a crime novel. No exploration of man’s relationship to the cosmos, the nature of hubris and its consequences, or the unconscious kinship between man and beast. In the end, crime fiction is always going to be mainly about who killed Cock Robin. Unless you’re Dostoyevsky, and the book is Crime and Punishment or The Brothers Karamazov.
But as you rightly point out, John Le Carre, Ursula K. LeGuin, and Walter Mosley do manage to get their plot-driven fiction into these deeper waters. LeGuin said she didn’t think of herself as a science fiction writer. She thought of herself as a novelist.
So there’s that. And as an old writing professor at Stanford once said, I wouldn’t knock it.
Interesting read. Thanks for writing this.