Books newsletter: Irish Book Week launched; Maeve Binchy festival; new library for Finglas

A preview of Saturday’s pages and a round-up of the latest news


In The Irish Times this Saturday, Dara McAnulty takes Patrick Freyne on a beach walk to talk about his new book, writing, autism and the wonder of the natural world. Dubliner Eoghan Daltun bought a partly-wooded farm in west Cork in 2009. Rewilding it back to a temperate rainforest has become his life’s work. He talks to Catherine Cleary about his book on it, with video by Chris Maddaloni. Edna O’Brien talks to Lara Marlowe about her new play, Joyce’s Women, which opens at the Abbey next week; Eugene O’Brien talks to Sara Keating about his debut novel, a kind of Pure Mule sequel, and latest play; and there’s a Q&A with Joyce Carol Oates, whose new novel, Babysitter, is out now and whose Marilyn Monroe novel Blonde has just been made into a Netflix film.

Reviews are Ted Smyth on The Storm Is Here by Luke Mogelson; Ronan McGreevy on Colditz: Prisoners of the Castle by Ben Macintyre; Declan Burke on the best new crime fiction; Kevin Power on Lessons by Ian McEwan; Rónán Hession on There’s Been a Little Incident by Alice Ryan; Colin Harvey on One Good Day by David Donoghue; Mia Levitin on All the Broken Places by John Boyne; Neil Hegarty on An Irish Atlantic Rainforest by Eoghan Daltun; Jan Carson on Agatha Christie: A Very Elusive Woman by Lucy Worsley; and Sarah Gilmartin on Best of Friends by Kamila Shamsie.

This week’s Irish Times Eason offer is Harlem Shuffle by Colson Whitehead, which you can buy for just €4.99, a €6 saving, ,with your newspaper this weekend.

Maeve Binchy was loved the world over for her insight, wit and empathy. Echoes, Ireland’s only literary festival with Maeve Binchy at its heart runs September 30th – October 2nd 2022 at Dalkey Castle & Heritage Centre, bringing together some of Ireland’s finest contemporary creative voices to celebrate unique stories across fiction, non-fiction, stage and screen.

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On Friday September 30th, Michael Heavey stars in a staged one-person adaptation by Shay Linehan of Maeve Binchy’s heart-warming story Minding Frankie. This is followed by The Joys of Recording Maeve with Kevin Reynolds, Series Producer, RTÉ One. A long-standing collaborator with Maeve, Kevin has the inside story on her famous live Rattlebag interview and much more! Themed The Tales We Tell, Saturday October 1st is a day of conversations and readings featuring: Paul Howard, Emily Hourican, Nuala O’Connor, Dean Ruxton, Lenny Abrahamson, Roddy Doyle, Martina Devlin, Sinéad Crowley, Niall McMonagle, Caroline Erskine, Elaine Murphy, Christine Green, Conor O’Clery, Declan Kiberd, Barry Pierce, Éilís Ní Dhuibhne, Ann Ingle, Séamas O’Reilly, Sarah Binchy, Clelia Murphy and Gordon Snell. The festival concludes with the Marvellously Maeve Guided Walk on Sunday October 3rd.

Half day and full day tickets available for Saturday. Limited tickets still available, booking at echoes.ie.

Bookselling Ireland, representing bookshops big and small across Ireland, in partnership with Publishing Ireland, has announced that Irish Book Week 2022 will take place from October 15th to 22nd.

First launched in 2018, Irish Book Week celebrates Irish authors, illustrators, publishers and Irish interest books, as well as the bookshops that sell them. Almost 250 bookshops are registered to participate in this year’s campaign and there will be a whole host of activities, workshops, book signings and events taking place to mark the special week which will be revealed over the coming months.

Bookselling Ireland also revealed their Brand Ambassadors for this year’s campaign: Eoin Colfer, Chris Judge, Sophie White and Manchán Magan.

Colfer said: “Irish Book Week is a wonderful and important initiative that helps children everywhere to discover a love of reading, a love that will enrich their entire lives and we are delighted and proud to be ambassadors.”

White said, “I am so delighted to be a part of this wonderful week to celebrate the incredibly vibrant Irish book scene. Our writers and illustrators entertain, enlighten and nourish us and they couldn’t do it without the commitment, passion, support and creativity of Irish booksellers and publishers. I feel privileged to be working at such an exciting time in Irish words!”

Aoife Roantree, chair of Bookselling Ireland, said, “We are delighted to announce the details for our 5th annual Irish Book Week and we welcome this year’s Brand Ambassadors. We are looking forward to working with them in highlighting and championing Irish talent and helping to put great Irish books into the hands of readers young and old.”

Ruth Hallinan, president of Publishing Ireland, commented, “Now in its fifth year, Irish Book Week goes from strength to strength as a highlight of the bookselling calendar. Publishing Ireland is delighted to work with Bookselling Ireland once again to bring Irish publishers, authors and readers together over a week of exciting events. Readers in Ireland are like nowhere else, with a deep and wide-ranging love of books, and Irish publishers very much reflect that demand for high quality work over a broad spectrum. We are thrilled to work with booksellers across the country and with the Irish Book Week ambassadors to promote, read and enjoy Irish-published books in the welcoming surroundings of our local bookshops.”

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Joseph Namara Hollis has won this year’s £5,000 Klaus Flugge Prize for the most exciting and promising newcomer to children’s picture book illustration. His book, Pierre’s New Hair (Tate Publishing), is about a bear obsessed with looking good but also desperate to show the world his roller-skating flair.

Judge Emily Gravett says, “Pierre’s New Hair is like a breath of fresh air. It made me laugh out loud. What impressed me was the way that Joseph was able to conjure up a whole world for his characters to inhabit. It was our winner because we loved how every aspect of the book fitted together perfectly to make this a quirky fun book to read.”

Established in 2016, the prize was founded to honour publisher Klaus Flugge, a supremely influential figure in picture books who set up Andersen Press in 1976 and discovered and nurtured many of today’s most distinguished illustrators including David McKee, Tony Ross, Satoshi Kitamura, Ruth Brown and Susan Varley. Previous winners include Eva Eland, Jessica Love and Kate Milner.

Describing himself as “dizzy with gratitude”, Hollis says, “Winning the Klaus Flugge Prize is invigorating. There is a sentiment in the book about letting go, enjoying the moment and not worrying too much about how you’ll be perceived. This is a necessity when working creatively. It’s also a paradox because whilst struggling to avoid being overly concerned with what other people might think, the hope is to form a meaningful connection with readers. To know my work has touched the judges is fulfilling, it has reinforced my belief - keep doing what you love most.”

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Everything With Words is to publish Welcome to Dead Town, Raven McKay, an “exceptional” middle-grade fantasy debut from Cork author Eibhlís Carcione.

Editor Mikka Haugaard said: “I’m thrilled to be publishing Welcome to Dead Town, Raven McKay,” said Haugaard. “It’s a stunning, lyrical tale of loss that’s also a gripping ghost story. Eibhlís writes with a poet’s voice and eye. She has created something magical. The narrative shifts between bold simplicity and fantasy in a way that will captivate readers young and old.”

The synopsis reads: “When her parents disappear, 12-year-old Raven McKay is put into foster care with Kitty Stromsoe in the town of Grave’s Pass. It’s not an ordinary town. It’s a town where the living and the dead co-exist side by side. All Raven has is a battered beige suitcase with a faded black butterfly sticker and a note from her mum saying not to open the suitcase until the right time.”

Carcione said: “Raven McKay found a gothic world of wonder in Dead Town and now she has found a perfect home at Everything With Words. I’m so excited to be working with Mikka, who publishes wonderful and beautiful books. I’m also very grateful to my agent Silvia Molteni for all her encouragement and support.”

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Graham Norton will be in conversation with Rick O’Shea in The Presidents Area at The Aviva Stadium on Saturday, October 1st, at 7pm to celebrate the release of his new book, Forever Home. Tickets are €28 and includes a signed copy of Graham’s new book.

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Dublin City Council is to deliver a Public Library in the heart of Finglas village. The new library will be on Seamus Ennis Road, on the site of a former An Post sorting office, which was acquired by the council in 2020. The new library will replace the existing service, which opened in 1980 and is located on the first floor of the Finglas Village Centre. The expected opening date is next summer.

Lord Mayor of Dublin Caroline Conroy said, “I am delighted to mark the start of the works on the new public library for Finglas. Libraries are vital public spaces at the heart of their communities. While the existing library in Finglas village is a much loved and well used local resource, this new library will be a modern, universally accessible community space, and I look forward to seeing the exciting new services that the library service will deliver for the people of Finglas.

“I am pleased to see that the project approach has been to retain and upcycle an existing, vacant building instead of knocking it down and re-building, taking a low energy approach and contributing to Dublin City’s sustainability objectives.”

Dublin City Librarian Mairead Owens said, “Delivering a new community library for the people of Finglas is a long standing ambition for the City. This project will deliver on that ambition, providing much needed, free, open and universally accessible space for all. The new library should also contribute positively to the regeneration strategy for Finglas village in a way that will assist the transformation of the centre of Finglas through the creation of a strong civic focal point for the area.”