Books newsletter: Dublin Book Festival; Butler Literary Award; Belfast International Arts Festival

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

Coming up in the Irish Times tomorrow, John Creedon talks to Deirdre Falvey about his new book; Deborah Somorin discusses her memoir with Jennifer O’Connell; William Boyd tells John Self about The Romantic, his new novel; there are extracts from Stephen Collins’s book on Brexit; Brian Rowan’s memoir of reporting on the Troubles; and Manchán Magan’s celebration of Irish mythology, Listen to the Land Speak: A journey into the wisdom of what lies beneath us; and there is a Q&A with Adam Kay.

Reviews are Fintan O’Toole on Gaffs by Rory Hearne; Éamon Sweeney on Faith, Hope and Carnage by Nick Cave and Sean O’Hagan; Claire Hennessy on the best new YA fiction; Séamas O’Reilly on I’m Glad My Mom Died by Jennette McCurdy; Houman Barekat on Show Your Work: Essays from the Dublin Review; Niamh Donnelly on Forever Home by Graham Norton; Rory Kiberd on Going Back by Eugene O’Brien; Éilís Ní Dhuibhne on The Book of Goose by Yiyun Li; NJ McGarrigle on The Yank by John Crawley; Mike Milotte on Thunder and Lightning by Colin Bateman; Matthew Shipsey on Undoctored by Adam Kay; and Bobby McDonagh on Ireland’s Call: Navigating Brexit by Stephen Collins.

This weekend’s Irish Times Eason offer is The Paris Apartment by Lucy Foley. You can buy this bestselling thriller for just €4.99, a €6 saving, with your newspaper.

Eason offer

Kerri Ní Dochartaigh has won the $2,000 Butler Literary Award for her debut, Thin Places. The judges were Wendy Erskine, Eibhear Walshe and Helen Meany.



The Belfast International Arts Festival celebrates its 60th anniversary from October 5th to November 6th, with a packed Talks & Ideas programme featuring talented authors from around the world.

No Alibis independent book shop in the Botanic area of the city will host a showcase of fiction exploring the complexities of the contemporary Caribbean, from two of the region’s celebrated authors Celeste Mohammed (Pleasantview) and Jacob Ross (Tell No-One About This), on 3rd November. Two days later on 5th November Charlotte Mendelson and Claire Powell, authors of two of 2022′s funniest novels about families will be at the store to discuss their respective latest works The Exhibitionist and At The Table.

One of the finest and funniest chroniclers of modern England, Jonathan Coe, comes to Belfast International Arts Festival for the first time to read from and talk about his new novel Bournville, at The Black Box. His new state-of-the-nation novel covers 75 years of social change – from James Bond to Princess Diana, from wartime nostalgia to the world wide web – and a nation’s love affair with chocolate, as seen by four generations of a family in Birmingham.

Ensuring that BIAF22 can reach the global arts community, two of France’s most original and acclaimed novelists join a special digital event on 15th October as part of the festivals longstanding partnership with the Institut Français. GauZ, who lived in Paris as an undocumented student before returning to Côte d’Ivoire, and David Foenkinos will discuss their novels Standing Heavy (GauZ), a funny and eye-opening tour of modern Franco-African history through the eyes of undocumented workers from Côte d’Ivoire, and The Martins (Foenkinos), a playful story of a Parisian writer who decides to write a book about the first person he sees in the street.

To explore the full programme and purchase tickets, visit


Westival - Westport Music and Arts Festival takes place from 26th -31st October with a multi-disciplinary programme, including writing workshops and literary events. From spoken-word and hip-hop workshops with Max Zanga, to an evening of poetry and music with award winning poet, Geraldine Mitchell and Tim Rogers. Drink wine with The Philosopher’s Hat Club and Savoir Fare to ask Who was Socrates and why is he still important to us?, or join Skein Press at their special author event to discuss underrepresented voices in Irish writing. All events from €5.00- €15.00. Available to book at


Dublin Book Festival 2022, running from November 8th to 13th, will showcase the wealth of talented authors, illustrators and poets published in Ireland while giving a platform to new voices. From intriguing in-conversation events, from Irish women’s speeches to crime to discussions around the literary scene in Ireland, explore the ever-popular walking and boat tours, photograph exhibitions and the new DBF Festival Hub in Dublin Castle.

A jam-packed schedule of free activities will be taking place in the Winter Garden for children with storytelling, music workshops, face painters, performers, illustrators and more. Highlights include Kellie Harrington in conversation, Bill Whelan discussing his life before Riverdance with musical performances by well known traditional Irish musicians and performers Zoë Conway and John McIntyre, Paul Brady on his autobiography, celebrating great speeches from Irish women throughout history and an event to mark the life and work of founder of O’Brien Press Michael O’Brien, take a walk through the Botanic Gardens or Dublin’s historic centre to explore their literary links, enjoy conversation and cocktails with Louise O’Neill and Sophie White. Tickets on sale now at


Twelve bookshops have made the longlist for Irish Bookshop of the Year. They are Kerr’s Bookshop, Clonakilty, Cork; Philip’s Bookshop, Mallow, Cork; Charlie Byrne’s Bookshop, Middle Street, Galway; Waterstones, Drogheda, Louth; Tertulia, Westport, Mayo; Liber, Sligo; Bridge Street Books, Wicklow; Chapters Bookstore, Parnell Street, Dublin; Books at One Letterfrack, Letterfrack, Connemara, Galway, Bridge Books, Dromore, Co Down; Books on the Green, Sandymount, Dublin; Genius Juniors Books, Ennis.

The shortlist for all categories in the An Post Irish Book Awards 2022 will be announced on October 20th, while the winners will be announced on November 23rd. Kenny’s Bookshop in Galway was crowned the overall winner in 2021.


Again, Rachel by Marian Keyes and The Echo Chamber by John Boyne are among the 12 books shortlisted for the 2022 Bollinger Everyman Wodehouse Prize for Comic Fiction. Two previous winners also feature: Nina Stibbe for One Day I Shall Astonish The World; and Gary Shteyngart for Our Country Friends.

The other books on this year’s shortlist are: Are We Having Fun Yet? by Lucy Mangan; Harrow by Joy Williams; Impossible by Sarah Lotz; Last Resort by Andrew Lipstein; The Lock In by Phoebe Luckhurst; The Man Who Died Twice by Richard Osman; The Other Black Girl by Zakiya Dalila Harris; The Trees by Percival Everett.

The award is the UK’s longest running prize for comic fiction and previous winners have included bestselling novelists Alexander McCall Smith, Helen Fielding, Howard Jacobson and Marina Lewycka. The only Irish winner of the prize has been Paul Murray for The Mark and the Void in 2016.

Chair of the judges, Peter Florence, said: “What a feast of wonderfully entertaining writing and a delightful spectrum of comedy, wit, satire and knockabout farce. There are great books here, and authors who mine the darker seams of life with humour and humanity.”

The winner will be announced on November 22nd at the Bollinger Burlington Bar in London. The winner will be awarded a jeroboam of Bollinger Special Cuvée, a case of Bollinger La Grande Année, the complete set of the Everyman’s Library PG Wodehouse collection and a pig named after their winning book.


Irish PEN/PEN na hÉireann, supported by Dublin UNESCO City of Literature, is hosting two events with the Ukrainian writer and human rights activist, Victoria Amelina, in Dublin next month as part of the Dublin Arts and Human Rights Festival. Amelina occasionally writes in English and her powerful essay on genocide and cultural memory, Nothing Bad Has Ever Happened: a Tale of Two Genocides, was republished in the Irish Times earlier this year. Homo Oblivious was republished in the Dublin Review of Books in July.

A reading and talk, Nothing Bad Has Ever Happened: Stories and Poems from Ukraine, will take place in Smock Alley Theatre on Thursday, October, 20th, from 7pm. Amelina, who is based in Kyiv, will discuss the role of artists and writers who chose to remain in Ukraine after the full-scale Russian invasion of February 24th. She will also focus on the importance of preserving Ukrainian literature and culture, and will read from her own work. Her new project is entitled War and Justice Diary: Looking at Women Looking at War. Booking via the Smock Alley Theatre website.

Amelina also writes for children. Her second event is for Ukrainian children aged 4-10 and will be held (in Ukrainian) in Pearse Street Library on October 22nd from 2-4pm. She will tell stories from a writer’s life and teach the children to draw characters from her latest book, Ten Ways for an Excavator to Save the World (Ееесторії екскаватора Еки). Booking via Pearse Street Library.


The shortlist for the 2022 Royal Society Science Book Prize, which celebrates the best popular science writing from across the globe, has been announced. The six titles are The Greywacke: How a Priest, a Soldier and a School Teacher Uncovered 300 Million Years of History by Nick Davidson; Different: What Apes Can Teach Us About Gender by Frans de Waal; Spike: The Virus vs. The People - the Inside Story by Jeremy Farrar with Anjana Ahuja; A (Very) Short History of Life on Earth: 4.6 Billion Years in 12 Pithy Chapters by Dr Henry Gee; Age Proof: The New Science of Living a Longer and Healthier Life by Professor Rose Anne Kenny; and Hot Air: The Inside Story of the Battle Against Climate Change Denial by Prof Peter Stott.

The winner will be revealed at a ceremony at the Royal Society on November 29th. The winner will receive £25,000, with £2,500 awarded to each shortlisted author.


UCD Library in partnership with Poetry Ireland will host a series of Poetry as Commemoration workshops using archival materials from the War of Independence and Civil War as creative prompts. All workshops are free and open to the public. This initiative is supported by the Department of Tourism, Culture, Arts, Gaeltacht, Sport and Media under the Decade of Centenaries programme 2022-23.

The dates are: 5 & 12 October, Cork City Library with Ailbhe Ní Ghearbhuigh (Gaeilge)[ 15 & 22 October, Wicklow County Archives with Lucinda Jacob (English); 18 & 20 October, Pearse Museum Dublin with Kevin McDermott (English); 5 & 12 November, Galway City Museum with Gerry Hanberry (English); 9 & 16 November, Linen Hall Library Belfast with Maria McManus (English). To register visit or email


Award winning book publisher, Tribes Press, continues to build on their success with the release of several new books this autumn, including the long-awaited The Transformation Journal, Dr Dom’s Bedtime Stories, and the picture book Giving Up’s Hard When You’re Only 3.

Tribes Press is the first multilingual book publisher in Ireland and recently celebrated winning at Gradam Sheosaimh Uí Ógartaigh 2022 (Bilingual Business Awards). They produce a range of books for children and adults and as a multilingual publisher will soon present a cross-European book launch between Galway and Eindhoven. “It’s a really exciting time at Tribes Press with wonderful manuscripts arriving into our submissions page,” owner Marguerite Tonery said. Tribes Press books can be purchased online at or at your local bookshop.


Frederick Douglass is a towering figure in the history of the African American struggle for equality and civic inclusion in the United States. However, Douglass also has a place in Dublin history, because of his visit to the city in 1845. His work with Dublin printer and abolitionist Richard D Webb to publish a European edition of his slave narrative, his meeting with Daniel O’Connell at Conciliation Hall, his empathy with the doomed Irish peasantry of the 1840s, and the achievement of a level of personal freedom unimaginable in his home country, all led Douglass to declare that he lived a new life here.

At 6pm on Tuesday, October 25th, in the Little Museum of Dublin, US historian Cecelia Hartsell will discuss Douglass’s life-changing visit to Dublin and the ways in which it shaped and expanded his worldview, giving him an understanding of the chains of suffering that linked the oppressed in Ireland to the oppressed in America, and influencing his life’s work as an abolitionist and advocate for human rights. Clare Daly MEP will introduce the event, with information about a new proposal to eliminate all products made with forced labour from the EU. This event is in partnership with the European Parliament Liaison Office as part of Black History Month. There is a complimentary wine reception after the talk. There are a limited number of tickets available. To reserve, go to


A new children’s reading guide celebrating picture books and illustration was launched this week by Children’s Books Ireland. Picture This features over 230 recommended reads for children and young people aged 0–18, which have been reviewed by experts in children’s literature. Each review is accompanied by a ‘Read also’ recommendation, bringing the total of books included to over 450.

Picture This focuses on books with strong visual narratives, including wordless or silent books, graphic novels and comics, picture books for all ages and graphic diary-style texts. The guide aims to highlight books, series and texts to encourage reluctant readers or those with language barriers to engage with reading.

Elaina Ryan, CEO of Children’s Books Ireland, said: “Pictures are important. They are rich and expressive and joyful and complex. As a child, they’re our first dip into the world of storytelling – but they’re not something to be left behind once a child is comfortable reading text. Pictures on the page aren’t just a stepping stone, they’re a journey in themselves.

“Presenting an alternative route to the linear progression from picture books to chapter books, we want Picture This to give children and young people just a little bit of space to discover a love of reading at their own pace, to read stories in formats they never knew about or would never have considered, to come back again and again to an illustration, experiencing the joy of finding something new each time. We particularly hope that these stories will have special appeal for young readers with reading difficulties, or those whose first language may not be English or Irish.”


On Wednesday October 12th, at 1pm, The Linen Hall Library will host a special event with Rosemary Jenkinson to mark the beginning of a new era for the oldest cultural organisation in Belfast.

It recently received £100,000 from the Dormant Accounts Fund NI for the development of a Digital Platform that will maximise the visibility and accessibility, of the library, bringing collections, events, and materials to a global and more diverse audience. To mark the occasion, Jenkinson will share on its digital platform the first of 32 chapters from her new book. And for the next 31 years, a new chapter will be released on the platform on exactly the same date.


US-based Irish author, Ethel Rohan (In the Event of Contact, The Weight of Him), named as curator for a national Irish Book Subscription Service operated by independent bookstore Bookshop West Portal, San Francisco. To set this service apart, Rohan will pen a letter to accompany each of her fiction and nonfiction selections, outlining her passion for her picks and why she believes the books will captivate subscribers. Rohan will remain in her role as interviewer for Bookshop West Portal’s highly popular virtual Irish Author Series. Past guests include literary giants Colm Tóibín and Kevin Barry. Next up on November 12, Rohan chats with rising star Louise Kennedy, author of Trespasses (November 8, Riverhead Books). The online event is free and accessible worldwide. Rohan’s second novel Sing I publishes in the US in spring, 2024 and will be presented for international rights at the Frankfurt Book Fair (Oct. 19-22, 2022).


To celebrate its 25th anniversary, the National Print Museum commissioned Short Stories in Print, A limited-edition collection of unpublished work by some of Ireland’s leading writers. The project will launch on October 21st.

Six household names and internationally renowned, prizewinning Irish writers Sebastian Barry, Roddy Doyle, Anne Enright, Christine Dwyer Hickey, Claire Keegan and Colm Tóibín, in response to an invitation from the National Print Museum, have written original, unique pieces. These beautiful and handsomely printed broadsides by master printer Seán Sills are now available as a signed, limited-edition portfolio of broadsides.