LOOSE LEAVES

 

A violent debutGiven the appalling levels of violence on Irish streets, there'll be much interest in Bad Day in Blackrock, a debut novel from Kevin Power coming from Lilliput Press next month.

Its advance information gives a synopsis of the plot: "On a late August night a young man is kicked to death by his teammates outside a Dublin nightclub and celebration turns to devastation. The reverberations of that event, its genesis and aftermath, is the subject of this extraordinary story, stripping away the veneer of a generation of Celtic cubs, whose social and sexual mores are chronicled and dissected in this tract for our times. The victim, Conor Harris, his killers - three of them are charged with manslaughter - and the trial judge share common childhoods and schooling in the privileged echelons of south Dublin suburbia."

The intertwining of these lives, says Lilliput, leaves their families in moral freefall as public exposure merges with private anguish and imploded futures. Power, who attended UCD and lives in Dublin, is in his late twenties and has the added advantage of having a pre-publication encomium from writer Frank McGuinness who says "Kevin Power is an author of magnificent control, stirring the deepest compassion with restless anger in this piercing contemporary novel.'

Whether it's a good idea to make the kind of advance claims the publisher is making for it ("Akin to Lionel Shrivers We Need to Talk About Kevin, John Banvilles The Book of Evidence and Truman Capote's In Cold Blood'') there's no doubt this will be a much talked about debut.

Booker raises spirits

The gloom attached to October 14th since it was announced as the brought-forward Budget day lifted significantly for literary groupies on Tuesday with the inclusion of Sebastian Barry on this year's Man Booker six-book shortlist for his novel The Secret Scripture.

We all know money isn't everything but budget day could have a whole new meaning for Barry if he wins the most prestigious literary prize on this side of the Atlantic, maybe the world.

The prize money of £50,000 is nothing compared to the huge sales spin-off which will kick in for Barry now that he is the bookies' fancy to win. William Hill installed him as favourite at 2/1, their Irish spokesman Tony Kenny saying that they thought the book had a great chance of making it two in a row for the Irish. Could the London literary cognoscenti really give it to another Irish novel so soon after John Banville's win in 2005 when Barry was also shortlisted and Anne Enright's win last year? With Barry, a writer described this week by the Arts Council's head of literature Sarah Bannan as one who challenges us to take a fresh look at our history and our humanity, they would have a worthy winner.

Ireland for Karlsruhe

An array of Irish writers will be descending on the German town of Karlsruhe between November 14th and December 7th, as Ireland is the guest of honour at its forthcoming annual book festival. The festival, now in its 26th year, attracts over 62,000 visitors during its three-week run. Irish writers participating include Theo Dorgan, Gabriel Rosenstock, Mike McCormack, Declan Hughes, Pat Boran, Eva Bourke, Nuala Ní Conchuir, and Matthew Sweeney. CLÉ, the umbrella group for Irish publishers, will also be organising for some 1,500 Irish books to be showcased there.

Bog child in final four

The novel Bog Child (David Flicking) by Siobhan Dowd who was born in London to Irish parents and who completed the book just before she died, is one of four finalists in the Guardian children's fiction prize which will be announced on September 24th. The other titles are Cosmic by Frank Cottrell Boyce, Before I Die by Jenny Downham and The Knife of Never Letting Go by Patrick Ness.