How a simple question began thousands of conversations and got a celebration started

Seamus Heaney. Photographer: Jack McManus

The countdown is on to find Ireland’s favourite Irish poem, so we’ve asked a selection of writers and readers to tell us their fav(...)

Scottish author writes a story a day for a year

Sara Baume: ‘There’s no guarantee that you’ll ever finish a book or that you’ll even get a publisher – and even when you do, you panic about the reviews, or the second novel’

The winner of the 2014 Davy Byrnes Short Story Award gave herself two years to write her debut novel, Spill Simmer Falter Wither. (...)

Rebecca Solnit argues persuasively, is often funny and is articulate to a fault

A revolt championing the cause of women

BJ Novak with his children’s book The Book with No Pictures. Photograph: David Becker/Getty Images

The actor is aware of scepticism around celebrity children’s authors but he has taken an innovative approach to the task

Psychobitches: Sharon Horgan as Simone de Beauvoir

In the old days there was ‘French and Saunders’. Now there’s Tina Fey and Amy Poehler, not to mention Horgan herself, with ‘Psycho(...)

Peter Carey: setting the record straight about the WikiLeaks founder. Photograph: Geraint Lewis/Rex

The Australian’s new novel, ‘Amnesia’, tackles hacking and activism – so why does he think ghostwriting Julian Assange’s memoir wo(...)

Viv Albertine:  a memoirist of great skill, wit and humour. Photograph: Michael Putland/Redferns

Review: This is not just a punk journal: it’s a story of femaleness, of feminism and of a fascinating life, which shows Albertine (...)

Aoife Duffin in A Girl Is a Half-formed Thing. Photograph: Fiona Morgan

To adapt Eimear McBride’s unconventional book can’t have been easy, but they’ve pulled it off

Contenders?: Anne Enright, Eimear McBride and Donal Ryan (top row); and Kevin Barry, Belinda McKeon and Jennifer Johnston (bottom row)

Eimear McBride, Jennifer Johnston and Kevin Barry are some of the names that have been suggested in response to the Arts Council’s(...)

More strings to their bows: Lioba Petrie and Karen Dervan. Photograph: Nick Bradshaw
Mash and grab

The eclectic mix you’ll hear at Kaleidoscope music nights, at Odessa in Dublin – everything from solo accordionists to saxophone q(...)

 Kate Bush performing her Before the Dawn concert at the Hammersmith Apollo in west London. Photograph: PA

Kate Bush’s live show is an arresting act of theatrical imagination and nerve – well, what else did you expect?

Leftfield: Will Arnett. Photograph: MJ Kim/Getty

The ‘Arrested Development’ star is about to hit Netflix as the hard-drinking washed-up actor BoJack Horseman

Illustration: Clare Brennan

How to Write a Book: In the conclusion to our 12-part series, agents give advice about what they look for in a book and how to att(...)

Greg Baxter. Photograph: Alan Betson Greg Baxter in Dublin: ‘Writing affords me the opportunity to be alone. I want to be reading books and writing books, and the internet, Twitter, all that stuff just distracts me.’ Photograph: Alan Betson

When writing his latest book, Munich Airport, Baxter put everything he had into it. The journey into a horrible death, scattered f(...)

John Banville: ‘For my Banville novels, the question of voice and point of view hardly arises, since they’re all in the first person. The Benjamin Black books are entirely in the third person, which allows for multiple points of view.’ Photograph: David Levenson/Getty Images

John Banville, Rachel Kushner and Peter Murphy share their wisdom on tone, voice and point of view

Review: The Price

This isn’t Arthur Miller’s finest work, but this Gate production doesn’t leave the audience short changed

Authors Willy Vlautin, Catherine O’Flynn and Paul Lynch convey a strong sense of place

Willy Vlautin, Catherine O’Flynn and Paul Lynch discuss the importance of a novel’s setting

Jenny Offill: fragmented observations

Jenny Offill’s brilliant, risk-taking novel portrays the conflict between routine and obligation pitched against all the other thi(...)

Keith McErlean and Rebecca O’Mara

How does Brian Friel’s 1979 play about a Troubles-era dysfunctional family hold up?

Jon McGregor, Evie Wyld and Donal Ryan

Deciding on a shape for your book can give you confidence and freedom

Michael Cunningham: ‘There’s only one story about people’s relationship with drugs: that it’s foolish, that it’s about escaping from reality, and you have to stop right now.’ Photograph: Ulf Andersen/Getty Images

In his new novel, the author of The Hours set out to avoid the tropes of fictional drug-taking. He talks about how Aids created ne(...)

George Saunders, Paul Murray and Irvine Welsh. Photograph: David Shankbone

George Saunders, Paul Murray and Irvine Welsh on dialogue

Jojo Moyes, Sam Lipstye, Lia Mills, and John Connolly

Tightly wound or free-flowing? Well charted or twists and turns? Jojo Moyes, Sam Lipsyte, John Connolly, Lia Mills and Tana French(...)

Inspired by courage: Linor Abargil, left, and film-maker Cecilia Peck

The rape of Linor Abargil propelled her on a quest for justice, culminating in the documentary ‘Brave Miss World’

Jimmy McGovern: ‘The writers I admire write about things that matter.’ Photograph: Joe O’Shaughnessy

Ahead of an appearance at the Galway Film Centre, Jimmy McGovern, writer of TV dramas Cracker, Hillsborough and Sunday, is frank a(...)

Orange Is the New Black has done a good job of highlighting new talent, including Danielle Brooks, far left, who plays Taystee

Netflix women’s prison drama ‘Orange Is the New Black’, a mould-shattering show that is as uncompromising as it is funny, is back (...)

Patrick McCabe, Kevin Barry, and Ross Raisin. Photographs: Cyril Byrne, Matt Kavanagh, Angus Muir

If you doubt your characters, your readers will doubt them too, so it is important to understand characters’ motivation and make t(...)

Nuala Ní Chonchúir, Ron Rash and Deborah Levy. Photographs: Emilia Krysztofiak, Ulf Andersen/Getty Images, Ben Pruchnie/Getty

Nuala Ní Chonchúir, Ron Rash and Deborah Levy all feel it is important for beginners to try out different forms – poems, novels, s(...)

Emma Donoghue, Dermot Bolger, Liz Nugent and Karen Joy Fowler

Irish authors tell us how and where they find inspiration for an idea strong enough to sustain a book, and how they go about turni(...)

‘Every time we talk to teenage girls they say they don’t want to get involved in feminism because it’s too scary’: Vagenda’s Holly Baxter and Rhiannon Lucy Cosslett. Photograph: Alfie Hope

Bloggers Holly Baxter and Rhiannon Lucy Cosslett didn’t intend to get involved in the fourth wave of feminism, but two years after(...)

Illustration: Clare Brennan

Over the next 12 weeks we’ll be getting the help of successful authors to explain everything would-be writers need to know. This i(...)

Oona Frawley: nascent potential

Oona Frawley’s debut novel, Flight, about a Zimbabwean woman who has just arrived in Ireland, and the elderly couple she cares for(...)

Ruby Wax: “Depression is a physical disease.” Photograph: Jeremy Sutton-Hibbert/Getty

She used to be that mouthy comedian on TV. Now Ruby Wax is a mental-health advocate with a stage show about sanity in a mad world (...)

Writer Paul Auster  in his home garden  in New York. Photograph: Jean-Christian Bourcart/Getty Images

Autobiographical work feels like a grab bag of ephemera or an afterthought scrapbook

Can our country be summed up by one book? We ask some experts to nominate candidates

Chekhov meets Borat? Woody Allen when he was funny? Author Gary Shteyngart’s blackly humorous vision is all his own

New chapter: Joanna Walsh’s bookmarks of feted women writers

An online campaign wants to get readers to seek out women authors, whether new, overlooked or forgotten

Hanif Kureishi: ‘You want to get more economical as you get older and get more work out quickly.’ Photograph: Getty Images

Writing courses are a waste of time, writers need to be more economical, and disturbing books are a triumph – the British author i(...)

Sinéad Gleeson checks the odds on the nominees for the 2014 Choice Music Prize

Rebecca Storm: ‘TV shows weren’t cruel back then, but watching X Factor today can make you uncomfortable.’ Photograph: Eric Luke

The singer reveals how she got the ‘Blood Brothers’ gig 30 years ago, and why she’s no fan of TV talent shows

Christos Tsiolkas: “It’s not about the golden boys.” Photograph: Cyril Byrne

What happens when a champion athlete fails? The writer Christos Tsiolkas, author of ‘The Slap’ and, now, ‘Barracuda’, has some int(...)

‘I often take a much-talked-about book and recommend something similar but older. So for people buying Gone Girl [by Gillian Flynn], I might suggest Daphne Du Maurier’s Rebecca,’ says Bob Johnson of Dublin’s Gutter Bookshop. Above: Daphne Du Maurier

The ‘best of’ lists tend to narrow our reading habits – so what lost classics might have escaped readers’ attention?

Crafty: Elizabeth Gilbert in the shop she runs with her husband. Photograph: Tom White/New York Times

Elizabeth Gilbert is infinitely proud of her bestselling memoir – but she says that her new novel, ‘The Signature of All Things’, (...)

Colin Barrett: bends language to expose new angles

Growing up in Co Mayo helped Colin Barrett shape wild visual narratives written in local voices

Author Elizabeth Gilbert at a film premiere in London. Photograph:  Chris Jackson/Getty Images

‘Eat, Pray, Love’ author says writers ‘forget how privileged they are’ at public talk

Unique, fearless, compelling

Even by host Neil Patrick Harris’s standards, the mid-show cabaret tune, The Number in the Middle of the Show, was light on laughs and celebrity cameos. Photograph: Mike Blake/Reuters

Wise-cracking host Neil Patrick Harris’s tap-dancing and arch quips felt familiar, but the roster of winners on the night raised s(...)

‘Let’s not panic just yet’: Anne Enright, who won the Booker in 2007 for ‘The Gathering’.  Photograph: Matt Kavanagh

Now the award is open to all English-language writers, will the big names inherit the literary earth?

A feelgood night of stories and games

Evie Wyld: ‘I wanted to write big action books but these sad little vignettes about fathers and sons kept coming out’

The writer’s second novel, about a female sheep shearer in Australia, reinforces that she is a distinctive and important new voice(...)

Eimear McBride: ‘The big presses liked it but said they didn’t know what to do with it because anything experimental is deemed something that won’t sell’

The writer’s exceptional debut novel, about family, emigration and death, echoes her life – but it almost didn’t get published

Taylor Schilling, centre, who plays the lead role of Piper Chapman in Orange Is the New Black: “It’s so unusual to get sent a script where the woman is taking the hero’s journey”

Netflix’s ‘Orange Is the New Black’, about a middle-class citizen who ends up in a tough prison, hands strong roles to its overwhe(...)

Author Susan Stairs: ‘For debut authors, there’s a natural instinct to look back’

Debut novelist Susan Stairs credits a creative-writing MA with the completion of her book ‘The Story of Before’

The inspiration for Niamh Boyce’s novel came from a 1942 news clipping from the Leinster Leader, about a herbalist who was arrested for ‘serious offences against girls’. Photograph: Alan Betson

Niamh Boyce’s fictional debut – about a 1930s potion seller whose real business is a dark secret – captures small-town Ireland of (...)

Jeffrey Tambor and Jason Bateman in Arrested Development

Jason Bateman, Portia Di Rossi and David Cross discuss the long-awaited return of ‘Arrested Development’

Photograph: Nancy Crampton

Her strong sense of identity reaches deep into the fiction of Taiye Selasi, one of Granta’s Best of Young British Novelists

Ayse Hassan, Gemma Thompson, Jehnny Beth and Fay Milton of Savages

It may have an anchor to the past, but Savages are blaringly of today – and Gemma Thompson and Jehn Beth are having an absolute rr(...)

The Cúirt festival brings a heavyweight literary line-up to Galway this week – here are 10 highlights

Heidi Talbot’s voice has taken her from Kildare to the upper echelons of folk – and gained some big fans along the way

Lucy Caldwell’s latest novel is inspired by an ancestor’s dramatic life, and her own career has taken her from the stage to the pa(...)

Cancer books suck, John Green writes in ‘The Fault in Our Stars’, but this one has made him a literary phenomenon

Deborah Levy: ‘In my teens I used to comb the bookshelves looking for ones that might have some sex in them. I took down Edna O’Brien’s Country Girls books and devoured them.’

Deborah Levy’s recent novel was declined for being ‘too literary’. A Booker-nomination followed

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