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Spy Writers On George Smiley

Posted December 08, 2011 to photo album "Spy Writers On George Smiley"

For many, John le Carré’s character George Smiley changed the genre of spy fiction. While apparently unassuming and unglamorous, Smiley is also unpredictable and, as these novelists underline, unforgettable.

George Smiley, a Spy among Spies
Olen Steinhauer on George Smiley
Philip Kerr on George Smiley
William Boyd on George Smiley
Philip Kerr on George Smiley

Philip Kerr on George Smiley

I‘ve admired George Smiley for years. I think a lot of older men such as I am, see something important of themselves reflected in Smiley’s very anti-heroic, window-sized glasses. In our various chosen professions I suspect that all of us have, at one time or another, like John le Carré’s inimitably doleful spy, been passed over, dismissed, forcibly retired, and forgotten; or have disappointed or been disappointing as husbands and lovers. But the great thing about Smiley is his quiet and very Churchillian determination to keep buggering on against all the odds; more than that, to triumph over the insulting assumptions of small-minded and spiteful colleagues that ‘dear old George’ is no longer up to it, and spectacularly to succeed where the self-declared high-fliers, the wide-boys and the Lord’s anointed have all failed. To that extent, Smiley is an inspiration to us all and the only too human equivalent of Aesop’s victorious tortoise. It’s not Jason Bourne, or James Bond, or Jack Ryan who wins my vote as the greatest spy in fiction and on screen. It’s George Smiley.

Bio: Philip Kerr is the author of more than 20 books, including seven Bernie Gunther novels, several standalone thrillers, and six books in the young-adult series Children of the Lamp under the pen name of P.B. Kerr. In 2009, he won the British Crime Writers' Association Ellis Peters Historical Fiction Award and Spain's RBA International Prize for Crime Writing for his Bernie Gunther series. A former advertising copywriter who released his first book in 1989 and in 1993 was named one of Granta magazine's Best Young British Novelists, he now divides his time between London and Cornwall. Learn more as his site. http://www.philipkerr.org.