In this Saturday’s Irish Times, Donal Ryan takes Roisin Ingle on a tour of his native Tipperarey to discuss his latest novel, The Queen of Dirt Island. Kit de Waal talks to Seamás O’Reilly about his childhood memoirs, Without Warning and Only Sometimes: Scenes from an Unpredictable Childhood.
Reviews are Ian Duhig on Without Warning and Only Sometimes by Kit de Waal; John Self on The Queen of Dirt Island by Donald Ryan; Declan Hughes on Best New Crime Fiction; Una Mannion on Tess Gunty’s Hutch; Keith Duggan on Two Brothers: the Life and Times of Bobby and Jack Charlton by Jonathan Wilson; Roisin Kiberd on Anne Weber’s Epic Annette: A Heroine’s Tale, tr. Tess Lewis; NJ McGarrigle on Rich Hall’s Nailing it; Rory Kiberd on The Last White Man by Mohsin Hamid; Eilis Ni Dhuibhne on The Swimmers by Chloe Lane; and Sarah Gilmartin on Haven by Emma Donoghue.
Beautiful World, Where Are You by Sally Rooney is this weekend’s Irish Times Eason deal, just €4.99, a saving of €5, when buying a newspaper.
The British Association of Contemporary Literary Studies has awarded its annual monograph prize jointly to Ian Hickey for Haunted Heaney: Specters and the Poetry (London: Routledge, 2021) and Caroline Magennis for Northern Irish Writing after the Troubles (London: Bloomsbury, 2021) .
The judges said of Haunted Heaney: “This book is rigorous, sensitive, written with clarity, and demonstrates a passion for Heaney’s work that is compelling. The readings were vigorous and revealing throughout and offer an original approach to the work.
The quote from Northern Irish Writing after the Troubles read: “It’s clear from the start that you’re in the hands of an expert reader, but also someone who loves these books and can take you deep into emotions they convey. There’s plenty here for readers who are completely new to the authors represented here as well as those who are already familiar with some of the texts under consideration.
The BACLS Postgraduate Essay Prize was awarded to Katie Harling-Lee for Caught in the Regime: Classical Music and the Individual in the Contemporary Novel (Open Humanities Library 7:2 (2021))
The Heaney-Miłosz Residence, a new literary residency program has been launched in Krakow, Poland by the Estate of Seamus Heaney, the Irish Embassy in Poland and the Krakow Festival Office (KBF). This residency will take place for four to six weeks in the fall of 2023 in the former apartment of one of Poland’s most renowned writers and Nobel laureate, Czesław Miłosz, in Krakow.
The residency aims to celebrate the friendship between Seamus Heaney and Czesław Miłosz, providing the time and space needed for an early or mid-career writer based in Ireland to develop their writing. The call for applications and the application form are available at literaryresidenciespoland.pl. Applications are open until On September 30, the selected author will be announced in December.
The Kennedy Summer School will explore the life of Bridget Murphy, President John F Kennedy’s great-grandmother and the woman behind the family’s turn of fortune in the United States.
Bridget emigrated from Wexford, escaping the ravages of the Famine. There she met fellow Wexfordman Patrick Kennedy. In 1849 they were married, but just nine years later he died, leaving Bridget alone to raise their four children.
In a new book, The First Kennedys, American author Neal Thompson explores Bridget’s often overlooked story. Neal says, “I consider her the forgotten hero of this family and its history. Everything about the legend of this family has been so male-centric. But when you kind of go back to where it all started, it really started with this tenacious, widowed, enterprising woman, Bridget.
Thompson will join Kennedy Summer School in New Ross Sept. 8-10. See kennedysummerschool.ie for details and tickets.
The Most Natural Thing in the World by Hennessy Literary Prize-winning short story writer Desmond Traynor, which he describes as a meditation on childlessness and childless existence and a kind of pro vita sua apology, is launched this month by Beir Bua Presse. Éilís Ní Dhuibhne called it “a very original essay by a master stylist. With brutal honesty, Desmond Traynor weaves the gripping story of his personal experience with philosophical reflections on the ethics of reproduction. Provocative, deep and ultimately very balanced. Rob Doyle described it as “an in-depth, personal, sometimes startlingly candid examination of perhaps the most fundamental decision a human being will ever make: whether or not to beget new life”.
The Last of the Light by Marc Ó Riain is a newly published collection of short stories, memories and images, capturing the essence of Loop Head Peninsula, Co Clare. The stories capture the endless play of light on the surrounding Atlantic – its birds, its fish, its moods and its power, all made from the lived experience of the region and drawn from the shadowy areas of memory. It is also a testimony to the bond of brotherhood – beneath the writing flows a submerged narrative: the loss of an absent brother, whose light, according to the author, originally from Kilkee, still lingers. A book that strongly evokes the connection between the person and the place and the place. €30 on bairneachpublications.com
The Irish Writers’ Center is set to open its doors for an Autumn Open Day on Saturday August 27 to inform those interested in writing about the variety of services, courses and resources available at the within the organization. Powered by a new five-year strategy, the center plans to improve opportunities for people from all communities to explore and participate in creative writing.
From 10:30 a.m. to 4:00 p.m., the day will feature a series of events, including open invitations to join the Inkslingers and New Irish Communities writing groups, a series of free workshops, a panel discussion on how “Place shapes us as writers”, an information session on the Salon du roman writing competition and much more. There will also be plenty of opportunities to meet and chat with other like-minded people who are interested in books and writing. Register for the Fall Open House.
Columba Books has published a new book by veteran journalist Mary Kenny. The way we were: Catholic Ireland since 1922 looks at the social and personal history of Ireland since the formation of the Irish state in 1922, with a focus on the Catholic identity of Irish culture. The book is a comprehensive social history with a perspective on the context and social changes compared elsewhere.
On September 7, Mary Kenny will be in conversation with Derek Scally, Irish Times journalist and author of The best Catholics in the worldon the theme of Catholic Ireland: A proud heritage or a shameful debacle?, hosted by RTÉ Radio 1 broadcaster Sean O’Rourke. The event will take place at Hodges Figgis on Dawson Street at 6 p.m. On September 15, Kenny will launch his book in the presence of Sabina Coyne Higgins at the United Arts Club, Fitzwilliam St. Upper at 6:30 p.m.
Audiobooks remain the fastest growing publishing industry, with the Audio Publishers Association reporting another 25% expansion this year. Far from cannibalizing print sales, research suggests that audiobooks are contributing to the growth of the overall book market. The image, however, is not good news. Many small independent presses publishing literary fiction and non-fiction are often excluded from this growing market, given the added costs of production and marketing, and the algorithm-based transactional market style of the dominant Audible. from Amazon (which may offer you an audiobook as a reward for buying a hedge trimmer).
A new independent company, Spiracle, challenges this status quo, providing a curated platform for modern and contemporary literary titles. Far from algorithms, bestsellers and self-help titles, this platform aims to be a haven for book lovers. The curated offer is like having a trusted friend recommend surprising and inspiring audiobooks to you every month, quite different from the narrow, predictable algorithmic suggestions based on past choices.