books & reading

Two Irish Authors on Bailey's Women Prize Shortlist

Baileys Women's Prize for FictionCongratulations to Anne Enright and Lisa McInerney who have been shortlisted for the 2016 Baileys Women's Prize for Fiction for The Green Road, and The Glorious Heresies respectively. "After a long and often passionate debate we are proud to present our 2016 shortlist," said Margaret Mountford, Chair of judges. "Our choices reflect a really diverse mix of brilliant writing from new and established authors around the world and we hope that everyone will find much to enjoy in them."

In The Green Road, Enright tells the story of the Madigan family, mother Rosaleen and her adult children Dan, Emmet, Constance and Hanna who have gathered at home for Christmas for the first time in years. Enright first introduces us to each character when they are younger, more innocent and less damaged: Hanna as a schoolgirl, Dan enjoying the freedom of the New York art scene of the 1990s, Constance, the only sibling to have stayed in Ireland, raising her young family; and Emmet, an aid worker in Mali. When they reunite in 2005 they are very different people and the reader must ponder what life has meant to each in the intervening years.

Great Novelists May Pass, But Great Novels Never Do

To Kill a MockingbirdWhat a sad month February has been in the literary world, witnessing as we have the passing of world-renowned novelists Harper Lee and Umberto Eco. And within hours of one another, how strange that is. And let me mention too English novelist Margaret Forster, who passed away on the 9th February.

America's Nelle Harper Lee,  widely known for her book 'To Kill a Mockingbird', died on the 19th February, aged 89 years, in her home state of Alabama. This modern classic was first published in 1960; indeed until the publication of the sequel 'Go Set a Watchman' in 2015 Harper Lee was a member of that rather unique club of authors known as the "one-hit wonders".

What's the Greatest British Novel?

BooksBBC Culture has asked critics and writers from all over the world to pick the greatest British novel and the resulting list is a great mix of stalwart classics and contemporary favourites. I must admit to loving top 100 lists. These are tried and tested, well-loved books, which much to offer. With so many shiny, newly published books grabbing my attention, it's good to be reminded of classics I've yet to read. 

So what title did critics from outside the UK choose as the quintessential English novel? It's not a Dickens, though three of his books feature in the top ten. It's a book by a woman, written at a time when to do so was a brave and challenging act. She published under the male pseudonym George Eliot...yes it's Middlemarch, a psychological study peopled with a range of characters each flawed in their own unique ways. Eliot shares the top ten with Virginia Woolf, Charlotte Brontë, Emily Brontë and Mary Shelley; leaving space for only two men, Dickens and Thackeray. 

Nails, Axes, Mirrors. And Love! Much ado about Crime

crime titlesIt is all too infrequent these days that I get a chance to post here on the blog regarding my crime fiction reads. It's not to say that I haven't been reading of late, far from it, but it does mean that I can struggle a little to recall the story line details of the many books I have read since my last post and how exactly I felt about them. But let me try at any rate. The following five books are either of an Italian, Thai, French or South African flavour, and I'm glad to say that none of them will disappoint. So read on!

Author Spotlight #1 - Michael Morpurgo

Michael MorpurgoWe decided to kick off our new series of regular blog posts on individual authors by putting the spotlight on that most prolific and popular of children's authors, Michael Morpurgo. A decision heavily influenced I might add by Michael's presence in Ireland right now to attend a big family event in the Concert Hall in Cork this evening.  Michael could be heard on RTE radio's 'Today with Sean O'Rourke' show yesterday morning when he was interviewed by Claire Byrne. If you missed it, you can listen to the interview online (c.16 minutes in length).

Right: Michael Morpurgo (Source)

Magical book found in Dublin - READ All About It!

The Boook of LearningWe invite children to delve into the world of Ebony Smart, a 12-year old girl whose world has just changed forever  - a new home in Dublin that is full of secrets, a magical book that unlocks the mystery to her past and a mysterious boy called Zach who befriends her – for the Citywide Reading Campaign for Children 2016.

The campaign is run by Dublin UNESCO City of Literature and Dublin City Public Libraries, in partnership with Mercier Press, and runs from January to March 2016.

New Author Sara Baume is Getting Noticed!

Sara BaumeSara Baume was yesterday awarded the Rooney Prize for Irish Literature in recognition of her outstanding achievement as a fiction writer. The prize is awarded annually to an emerging Irish writer under forty years of age for a body of work that the selection committee considers shows exceptional promise. However the Prize website does state that 'a single exceptional work may warrant an award'.

Right: Sara Baume (photo: Tramp Press)

Moone Boy Thrills Hundreds!

Moone BoyThere were some 400 children in the audience at a special 'Moone Boy' event in Dublin's Liberty Hall yesterday (14th October). Chris O'Dowd and Nick V. Murphy, co-authors of 'Moone Boy: The Fish Detective' were there entertaining the children and reading from the second in the hilarious illustrated series inspired by the Sky TV series they co-wrote.

The event was organised by the Dublin UNESCO City of Literature Office in conjunction with Dublin City Public Libraries.

Fallen is One City One Book Choice for 2016!

FallenWe are delighted to announce that Lia Mills’ novel Fallen, published by Penguin Ireland, is the Dublin: One City One Book choice for 2016.

We are also delighted to announce that, for the first time, Dublin will team up with Belfast for a 'Two Cities One Book' Festival.  2016 will see a partnership with Libraries NI (the library authority for Northern Ireland) so that next April readers in Dublin and Belfast will engage with the same book at the same time. The initiative was launched at noon today (14th) by an tArdmhéara Críona Ní Dhálaigh and the Minister for Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht, Heather Humphreys TD.

Henning Mankell Passes, RIP

Henning MankellHenning Mankell, that giant of Swedish, indeed European, crime fiction writing, has sadly passed away at the age of 67. He had been suffering from cancer. Though not exclusively a crime writer, his Kurt Wallander (pronounced vahl lahń’ der) crime series are known the world over and are must-reads for all fans of the crime fiction genre. The Wallander TV series has also proved a big success, viewers in this country may have been lucky enough to view the series on BBC 4.