Belfast’s 2014 One City One Book read is ‘The Poets’ Wives’

Programme of events to promote David Park’s novel in May

David Park, author of The Wives,  this year’s One City One Book Belfast 2014, with Damian Smyth, head of  literature at the Arts Council of Northern Ireland.

David Park, author of The Wives, this year’s One City One Book Belfast 2014, with Damian Smyth, head of literature at the Arts Council of Northern Ireland.

Fri, Feb 28, 2014, 15:04

The latest novel by David Park has been selected as Belfast’s 2014 One City One Book read.

The Poets’ Wives contrasts three marriages, in stories told by the widows of great poets: Catherine Blake, wife of William Blake; Nadezhda Mandelstam, wife of Osip Mandelstam; and Lydia, fictional widow of a fictional modern Irish poet. It will be the focus of this Arts Council initiative to develop the art of reading and promote Northern Ireland’s rich literary heritage.

Eilis Ní Dhuibhne, reviewing the novel in last Saturday’s Irish Times , described it as an “outstanding novel, written in luminous, accessible prose, thoroughly enjoyable and much deeper even than the sum of its excellent parts”.

A programme of events will take place in venues across the city in May, to encourage as many people as possible to read and discuss the same novel at the same time. Inspired by the themes of the book and its author, the programme will feature a wide range of events, talks, film screenings and readings as well as book giveaways, competitions and more.

One City One Book Belfast is now in its third year . Last year’s title was All the Beggars Riding by Lucy Caldwell and in 2012 it was The Mill for Grinding Old People Young by Glenn Patterson.

The concept originated in Seattle in 1998. Since then the One City One Book concept has spread to cities throughout the globe, celebrating local writing and promoting reading.

Roisin McDonough, chief executive of the Arts Council, said: “In a world of 24-hour news and entertainment, it’s all too easy to forget the simple pleasure derived from reading. One City One Book is the perfect opportunity to rediscover books and celebrate local writing. This year’s choice, The Poets’ Wives , is by one of our most successful contemporary authors. It’s a novel which will capture the imagination and I’ve no doubt it will be a popular choice this year.”

Park has written eight previous books including The Big Snow, Swallowing the Sun, The Truth Commissioner and, most recently, The Light of Amsterdam . He has won the Authors’ Club First Novel Award, the Bass Ireland Arts Award for Literature, the Ewart-Biggs Memorial Prize, the American Ireland Fund Literary Award and the University of Ulster’s McCrea Literary Award, three times. He has been shortlisted for the Irish Novel of the Year Award three times and was recently longlisted for the Sunday Times EFG Short Story Award. A former teacher, he lives in Co Down.

Park said he was delighted his new novel had been chosen as the focus for the reading campaign: “It is a great honour to have my book chosen to be Belfast’s One City one Book. I look forward to participating in a range of events and having the opportunity to engage with both those who are familiar with my work and those who come to it for the first time.”

Details of events taking place as part of the 2014 programme will be announced soon. Visit artscouncil-ni.org for more information.