Louise Nilsson explores in the chapter “Paratextuality” how crime fiction narratives – based on paratextual source material as book cover design – present themselves on the transnational book market. The aim is to examine how marketing strategies seek to govern our perception of narrative content, and how they shape our understanding prior to reading or viewing a work of crime fiction. This chapter focuses primarily on jacket design and book reviews and pays special attention to two forms of paratextuality that are central to the marking of crime fiction, namely paratextual validation and paratextual authenticity. Paratextual validation positions the novel within the crime fiction genre as a whole, vouching for its quality and uniqueness as well as for its belonging to a genre with long heritage. Paratextual authenticity is a matter of lending the narrative an aura of authenticity – a sense that it “could be true”. This paratextual framing, which consists of the peritextual content of the jacket design and the epitexts of the broader mediascape, opens up a space that allows literature to present itself as an authentic voice depicting a reality through its fictional stories. In addition, the genre as a whole is a part of the multifaceted global mediascape that governs and informs our views on the world as well as our local settings. Paratexts serve as gateways to the presentation of crime fiction as it circulates in shifting cultural contexts in the global book market. Though, the paratext is not solely a marketing strategy that governs our reading experience; it is also, following the global theorist Arjun Appadurai, a framing device that enables crime novels to contribute to the global imaginary’s multifaceted representation of the world.

author Louise Nilsson

The Routledge Companion to Crime Fiction, ed. Janice Allan et al. Routledge (forthcoming).

published 2020