Top story prize winner makes for Cork

Sat, Sep 22, 2012, 01:00

LOOSE LEAVES: With a prize of €25,000 and a roll-call of first-rate winners (including Yiyun Li, Haruki Murakami, Ron Rash and Edna O’Brien), the Frank O’Connor International Short Story Award can claim to be one of the world’s most prestigious prizes for a story collection, as well as the most lucrative.

This year’s winner, the American writer Nathan Englander (below), will be at Cork International Short Story Festival tomorrow evening to collect his prize and read from his winning collection, What We Talk About When We Talk About Anne Frank. At the same event, in Triskel Arts Centre, the winner of the €2,000 Seán Ó Faoláin Prize, for the best single story under 3,000 words, will be announced. The festival, one of Ireland’s oldest literary events, is now halfway through, but has plenty to offer in this closing weekend, including today’s paired readings by Kevin Barry and Will Boast, Fiona Kidman and Éilís Ní Dhuibhne, and John Banville and Lydia Davis, as well as a discussion of the fairytale in modern literature. For details, see corkshortstory.net.

Moving a few miles west and a few days forward, next weekend sees the fifth annual Engage Arts Festival in Bandon, with a literary strand including the poets Gabriel Fitzmaurice, James Harpur, Afric McGlinchey and Leanne O’Sullivan, plus the ubiquitous Kevin Barry. The festival starts on Thursday; see engageartsfestival.com.

Talk and wine at Ted Hughes’s Connemara place

With the Patrick Kavanagh Weekend set to take place in Co Monaghan from next Friday, Clifden Arts Week about to begin in Connemara and the Co Cork jamborees mentioned above, it seems that a new term is under way in earnest on the Irish literary circuit. Glancing through what’s on offer in Clifden, one event that catches the eye is a look at the role of Connemara in the life and work of Ted Hughes. A presentation on Wednesday at 8pm, by Robert Jocelyn and Ann Henning Jocelyn, will take place at Doonreagan, in Cashel, the house where the poet lived for a productive period in 1960. Tickets to the event, and wine reception, cost €12; booking is essential, from 095-31049 or roden@ireland.com. See also doonreagan.com.

The Kavanagh festival in Iniskeen, meanwhile, gets going as usual with Friday evening’s presentation of the Patrick Kavanagh Poetry Awards, now in their 41st year, judged this time by Brian Lynch. Among the weekend’s speakers and readers will be the poets Paula Meehan and Micheal O’Siadhail; patrickkavanaghcountry.com.

Wikipedia sources an issue for Philip Roth

Good to see that Wikipedia has now taken on board the views of Philip Roth on the inspiration behind his own work, in this case his novel The Human Stain, published in 2000.

Roth’s page on the website had quoted views that the main character in the novel, about an academic accused unjustly of making a racist remark, was based on Anatole Broyard, a New York literary figure. On reading this, Roth contacted Wikipedia with the information that the book was actually based on an incident in the life of his friend Melvin Tumin, a Princeton professor, and asked that references to Broyard be removed. He was told, apparently, that this could not be done until his claim was backed up by “secondary sources”. Cue Roth’s amusing and thorough “open letter to Wikipedia” on the New Yorker website, detailing the sources of his novel and questioning whether “secondary sources” are applicable to a writer’s inspiration.

Wikipedia has now added quotes from Roth’s article to its page on The Human Stain, though the Broyard references remain, as well as a response to Roth from Broyard’s daughter Bliss. See Wikipedia and newyorker.com.

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