Thirteen may be considered unlucky for some, but not to the thirteen on the Man Booker Prize longlist which includes three Irish authors this year. Donal Ryan’s "From a Low and Quiet Sea" is his second nomination for the prize after "Spinning Heart" in 2013. Anna Burns and Sally Rooney both receive their first nominations for "Milkman" and "Normal People" respectively. Belfast born Anna Burns was shortlisted for the Orange Prize, now the Women's Prize for Fiction, in 2001 for her debut; "No Bones". Sally Rooney, at 27, is the joint youngest author to be nominated this year. She can add that to an already impressive resume that includes being the 2017 Sunday Times Young Writer of the Year. Upon ditching the requirement of the author to be either from the U.K. or the Commonwealth two years ago, the two most recent winners of the prestigious accolade have both been from the U.S. Ireland can hold its head high to have the same number of nominations as the U.S. this year. There is only one previous winner nominated this year, Michael Ondaatje, whose book "The English Patient" was crowned the best Man Booker Prize winner of the last 50 years. This year he is nominated for his captivating novel "Warlight", set in post Blitz London in 1945. In a departure for the prize, this year sees a graphic novel, "Sabrina" by Nick Drnaso, nominated for the first time. Judges are quoted as being blown away by Drnaso's "oblique, subtle and minimal" style in a work that explores the chilling effect of 24-hour news after a girl has disappeared.Farouk's country has been torn apart by war. Lampy's heart has been laid waste by Chloe. John's past torments him as he nears his end. From a Low and Quiet Sea centres around the refugee, the dreamer and the penitent. From war-torn Syria to small-town Ireland, three men, scarred by all they have loved and lost, are searching for some version of home. Each is drawn towards a powerful reckoning, one that will bring them together in the most unexpected of ways.In this unnamed city, to be interesting is dangerous. Middle sister, our protagonist, is busy attempting to keep her mother from discovering her maybe-boyfriend and to keep everyone in the dark about her encounter with the Milkman. But when first brother-in-law sniffs out her struggle, and rumours start to swell, middle sister becomes 'interesting'. The last thing she ever wanted to be. To be interesting is to be noticed and to be noticed is dangerous. "Milkman" is a tale of gossip and hearsay, silence and deliberate deafness. It is the story of inaction with enormous consequences.Connell and Marianne both grow up in the same town in rural Ireland. The similarities end there; they are from very different worlds. But they both get places to study at university in Dublin, and a connection that has grown between them despite the social tangle of school lasts long into the following years. Sally Rooney's second novel is a deeply political novel, just as it's also a novel about love. It's about how difficult it is to speak to what you feel and how difficult it is to change. It's wry and seductive; perceptive and bold. Normal People will make you cry and you will know yourself through it.As a nation that has the most Nobel Laureates per capita in the world, Ireland has always punched far above her weight in the literary world. Donal Ryan, Anna Burns and Sally Rooney continue the hallowed Irish tradition of captivating their readers with their touching and unflinchingly human stories. We wish them the very best of luck and hopefully one of them will be the fifth Irish Man Booker Prize winner.The Man Booker Prize Longlist:Snap, Belinda BauerMilkman, Anna BurnsSabrina, Nick DrnasoWashington Black, Esi EdugyanIn Our Mad and Furious City, Guy GunaratneEverything Under, Daisy JohnsonThe Mars Room, Rachel KushnerThe Water Cure, Sophie MackintoshWarlight, Michael OndaatjeThe Overstory, Richard PowersThe Long Take, Robin RobertsonNormal People, Sally RooneyFrom a Low and Quiet Sea, Donal RyanPress on the Man Booker:Three Irish Authors nominated for Man Booker Prize 2018 (Irish Times)First Graphic Novel nominated for Man Booker Prize 2018 (The Guardian)About the Man Booker:The Man Booker Prize is one of the world's most famous literary prizes for contemporary fiction. From 2014 eligibility for The Man Booker Prize was extended to include novels originally written in English and published in the UK, regardless of the nationality of their author. Previously it was only awarded to the best novel of the year written by a citizen of the Commonwealth or the Republic of Ireland.
As 2018 marks the centenary of the end of the First World War, Rathmines Library will host a book display called Witnesses to War throughout the month of March. This will include both fiction and non fiction works. These titles include personal accounts that document the callousness, cruelty and tragedy of war while others demonstrate how the experience of war continues to inform a writer’s work long after a war has ended.Two of our chosen authors, Irene Nemirovsky and Anne Frank did not survive the wars they witnessed. Their accounts demand our attention and demonstrate the enduring power of the human imagination and spirit over the bleak realities, and sense of hopelessness that accompanies war.Others including Ernest Hemingway, J.R.R. Tolkien and George Orwell allowed their experiences to permeate their words to create classic works that are just as relevant today as they were when they were first published. We have also selected a number of authors from more recent conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan who have recorded their experiences by writing gripping memoirs.All our selected authors bore witness to war, and their work leaves a lasting legacy, often serving as a warning, but also enriching and giving hope to all in these increasingly fractured times.
We 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.Fallen, which tells the story of Dubliners against the backdrop of the dramatic events of Easter Week 1916, is a literary contribution to Dublin City Council's 1916 centenary programme.An tArdmhéara Críona Ní Dhálaigh said "I am delighted that as part of Dublin City Council’s 1916 commemorations, the Dublin: One City One Book Festival is joining with Belfast city through Libraries NI to celebrate the wonderful novel Fallen by Lia Mills. As a fellow Dubliner, I want to congratulate Lia on this, her third novel, and wish her every success with it. Tá mé cinnte go mbeidh an-éileamh ar an leabhar agus go mbainfidh léitheoirí Bhéal Feirste agus Bhaile Átha Cliath taitneamh as an úrscéal staire fíorthráthúil seo. I congratulate Dublin City Libraries for this first time collaboration with Libraries NI."Above: View photo slideshow above of the launch. (Some photos, credit: Jason Clarke Photography (see flickr photos))The Minister for Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht, Heather Humphreys said "There are many ways to tell the stories of 1916. Historians will provide us with the factual accounts of the events of the Rising, but novelists like Lia Mills can add layers to that narrative. By focusing on personal stories, with which we can all identify, we can discover what daily life was like for the citizens who were caught up in a series of tumultuous events which changed this country forever. I am delighted that this book has been chosen for next year as part of the Ireland 2016 Centenary Programme, the moment when we as a nation will commemorate the events of 1916."Commenting on the project, Irene Knox, Chief Executive of Libraries NI, said:"This is a great opportunity to encourage people in both cities to read and discuss the same book and the project supports one of Libraries NI's core aims of promoting reading and literature. The timeframe and the chosen book is particularly relevant considering next year's planned commemorative events for the Decade of Commemorations for World War One and for the Easter Rising, both significant historical events which form the backdrop of the novel."Dublin City Librarian Margaret Hayes says "Dublin: One City One Book 2016 will be the eleventh year of this annual programme . Fallen is a novel which through its characters, plot and narrative tells the story of ordinary Dubliners caught up in the historic events of Easter 1916 and is a perfect choice for Dublin: One City One Book 2016. I am especially pleased that readers in Dublin and Belfast will jointly explore this book and share their reading experiences in a first time collaboration of 'Two Cities, One Book'."Lia Mills said, "I’m delighted that Fallen has been chosen for the Dublin: One City One Book festival in 2016. The festival is such a positive boost – for books and for readers. I wanted this novel to explore a fresh perspective, starting with the question: what would it be like to find your city taken over by forces you don’t recognise? The participation of Libraries NI adds a new and exciting dimension to the festival. I'm really looking forward to seeing what we can do."Fallen, published by Penguin Ireland, is the third novel from Dublin author Lia Mills. Through the experiences of its central character Katie Crilly, the novel explores the challenges of day to day living in a conflict situation alongside contextual subjects such as education and votes for women. It vividly depicts the various and conflicting allegiances faced by Irish soldiers in the First World War and those supporting the cause of the rebellion.A full programme of events in both cities, offering opportunities to engage with Fallen in a range of contexts, will be announced in March 2016.Since its inception in 2006, the Dublin: One City One Book Festival has encouraged everyone to read a book connected with Dublin during the month of April. The initiative is led by Dublin City Council's Public Library Service as part of Dublin's UNESCO City of Literature designation and is supported by the Department of Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht.Today's announcement follows a highly successful Dublin: One City One Book Festival in 2015. The book choice was 'The Barrytown Trilogy' by Roddy Doyle. Events booked out quickly and the books in the trilogy were among the most borrowed books from Dublin's public libraries this year.Previous books featured in are 'At Swim Two Birds' by Flann O’ Brien (2006), 'A Long Long Way' by Sebastian Barry (2007), 'Gulliver's Travels' by Jonathan Swift (2008), 'Dracula' by Bram Stoker (2009), 'A Picture of Dorian Grey' by Oscar Wilde (2010), 'Ghost Light' by Joseph O’Connor (2011),' Dubliners' by James Joyce (2012), 'Strumpet City' by James Plunkett (2013) and 'If Ever You Go: a map of Dublin in poetry and song', edited by Pat Boran and Gerard Smyth (2014).Visit the Dublin: One City One Book website, and on Twitter; hashtag #fallen2016.
As you’re probably aware, last year we entered what’s being called the decade of commemoration. It began with the centenary of the lockout, and continues now with the onset of World War One. This war was such a catalyst: The world was a completely different place at the end of those four years than it had been at the start of them; and the sheer bad luck of that generation, finding themselves plunged into a maelstrom, is heartbreaking. The centenary brings a surfeit of material, and with it a danger of overkill, but that will pass, and the commemorative material and research will be invaluable down the line. In the meantime, here is a sample of both fiction and non-fiction looking at the war from different viewpoints.ALL QUIET ON THE WESTERN FRONTThe German viewpoint. One of the earliest, and best, novels written about the war, and from the perspective of a German soldier, who has joined up straight out of school with his classmates: ‘We were eighteen and had begun to love life and the world; and we had to shoot it to pieces’. The regular German soldier suffered just as much at the hand of fate as their counterparts, dealing with mismanagement, poor equipment, hunger, rats, slaughter, and yearning for a normal life: on one of their regular forays to the front they pass a mass of new coffins, ready and waiting for them. Remarque also wrote a sequel called The Road Back, which continues the story of the surviving characters, and describes their rehabilitation into a corrupt and uncaring society.A COWARD IF I RETURN, A HERO IF I FALLThe Irish viewpoint. Up until very recently, Ireland denied its role in the war: the Easter Rising executions and subsequent rise in nationalism changed the public’s view of the Irish Fusiliers from heroes to traitors; and men and boys who had joined up for a variety of reasons – financial, a sense of duty, a belief that it would further Home Rule, or purely for adventure – returned to find themselves booed and shunned by society, unemployable, and erased from their family history. Now, with a century’s distance, this view is changing, and this book commemorates through diaries and interviews with family members the significant and substantial role of Irishmen. The book admirably refuses to glorify, just to acknowledge.DOROTHEA’S WARA nurse’s viewpoint. The diary of Dorothea Crewdson, a volunteer nurse in France from 1915 to 1919, preparing wounded soldiers to get back to England to convalesce. A typical nurse, she is practical and unfazed in the face of horrific injuries, shellshock, and bombs, and continues nursing the wounded well into 1919. Lots of interesting little details, including Fords, flappers (in 1916!), and how messenger dogs were showered with (harmless) bombs while being fed to accustom them to the noise. The diary includes Dorothea’s very vibrant little line sketches.A BRASS HAT IN NO-MAN’S-LANDThe old soldier’s viewpoint. The memoir of a Northern Irish Protestant with a military background, who joins the Royal Irish Fusiliers in Dublin. Crozier describes how the men thrown together from both sides of the Irish divide found it difficult to free themselves from their insular and parochial mindsets, and to work together as a team. This book makes uncomfortable reading: it’s pretty graphic and Crozier freely admits in his memoir that his job was to provide cannon fodder; that said, he states that it’s far better for humanity to eradicate war itself than to pretend it can be undertaken without brutality. The voice and tone are very much of their time, but then this is what helps us develop a deeper understanding of a world we find difficult to relate to.IRELAND’S MEMORIAL RECORDSThis CD-ROM, produced by Eneclann, contains the records of more than 49,000 Irishmen who died in this war. Easy to use, with clear instructions, it gives each individuals rank and company details, and date and location of death. This is just a small selection of material exploring the First World War. There are many others, both fiction and non-fiction: highly recommended is the Monica Roberts Collection of letters from soldiers, now available to view online at Digital Repository Ireland.