The CWA Cartier Diamond Dagger 2008
Winner: Sue Grafton
The best-selling American novelist, Sue Grafton, has been awarded the Crime Writers’ Association Cartier Diamond Dagger for 2008.
The presentation of the award, for sustained excellence in the genre of crime writing, was made by M. Arnaud Bamberger of Cartier at a champagne reception at the Gore Hotel, Kensington, London SW7 on May 7th 2008, which was also attended by two previous recipients, Robert Barnard and John Harvey.
Ms Grafton, who was accompanied by her husband, Steve, said of receiving the award how delighted she was to be joining the four previous American names on the Cartier roll of honour. “Aside from the Americans, the Brits are amazing,” she said. “I’ve learned so much from all of you. The list goes on. I’ve looked for writers who’ve survived and ask what medications they’re on.” She commented that on her final tour she planned to drive across the States from signing event to signing event in a pink ambulance, from which, “my bony arm will extend, you will all bring your books to be signed, and my bony arm will disappear again.” Finally, she added that she saw the award of the Cartier Diamond Dagger as, “a vote of confidence. I will cherish it for the rest of my life - or to the end of the series - whichever comes first. It’s a pleasure to be here.”
SUE GRAFTON was born in Kentucky in 1940, the daughter of mystery writer CW Grafton. After receiving a bachelors degree in English Literature from the University of Louisville, she worked as a TV scriptwriter before her Kinsey Millhone alphabet series of PI mystery novels found success. The first in the series, A is for Alibi was famously inspired by her own divorce. “For months I lay in bed and plotted to kill my ex-husband, but I knew I’d bungle it and get caught so I wrote it in a book instead.”
Three of Ms Grafton’s novels have won the Anthony Award at the annual Bouchercon World Mystery Convention; she has won three Shamus Awards, and in 2004 received the Ross Macdonald Literary Award given to a California writer whose work raises the standard of literary excellence.
All the books in the Kinsey Millhone series are set in the fictional Santa Teresa, CA, which Ross Macdonald used as an alternative name for Santa Barbara in his novels. Ms Grafton plans to carry the series all the way through to Z. The latest number one best-seller, T is for Trespass, was published in the US in December 2007 and in the UK in Macmillan hardback in April 2008. Ms Grafton’s novels are published in 28 countries and in 26 languages, including Bulgarian and Indonesian, although she has consistently refused to sell the film and television rights, claiming her experience as a screenwriter “cured” her of the desire to work with Hollywood.
On hearing of the award, Ms Grafton said: “News of my being named the 2008 recipient of the CWA's Cartier Diamond Dagger so astonished me that I thought at first it was a practical joke. The note from my British publisher, Macmillan, was typically understated: 'I have some good news from the Crime Writers' Association. They would very much like to award you the 2008 Cartier Diamond Dagger at a ceremony in London on 7th May in Kensington.' Good news !?! I read the message three times and then checked the e-mail address just to verify that it had been intended for me. The publicity director was gently inquiring if I might attend the ceremony. I am absolutely delighted to respond that I'll be there with bells on, as they say over here. I'm thrilled with the news and honored at the prospect. I confess I'm still slightly worried there's an error in the works, but I'll be there nonetheless.”
Sue Grafton's website is www.suegrafton.com
The Cartier Diamond Dagger
As the name suggests, this coveted award is sponsored by Cartier, who have done so since its inception in 1986. The CWA committee selects writers nominated by the membership. Nominees have to meet two essential criteria: first, their careers must be marked by sustained excellence, and second, they must have made a significant contribution to crime fiction published in the English language, whether originally or in translation. The award is made purely on merit without reference to age, gender or nationality.
Sue Grafton wins the Cartier Diamond Dagger in its twenty-third year. Previous winners include John Harvey, Elmore Leonard, Ian Rankin, Lawrence Block, Sara Paretsky, Colin Dexter, Ed McBain, Reginald Hill, Ellis Peters, Leslie Charteris, Ruth Rendell, Dick Francis, John Le Carré and PD James.
Last year's winner was John Harvey.