Nine-way auction for Roisín O’Donnell’s debut novel; comedy success for IWC novel fair winner

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

In The Irish Times this Saturday, Gary Younge talks to Patrick Freyne about his new book, Dispatches from the Diaspora; Alan Titley writes about his new version of The Táin for children; Pádraig O’Moráin distils some ideas from his latest book, Acceptance: Create Change and Move Forward; Gearóid Ó Faoleán, author of A Broad Church – The Provisional IRA in the Republic of Ireland, Volume 2: 1980-1989, reveals how the Provisionals funded their campaign; and there is a Q&A with bestselling author Francis Spufford, chair of the judges for the Sunday Times Young Writer Award, whose winner will be announced next Tuesday.

Book reviews are Lara Marlowe on A Stranger in Your Own City: Travels in the Middle East’s Long War by Ghaith Abdul-Ahad; Taking Sides by Sherine Tadros; Emma Flynn on Hags: The Demonisation of Middle-Aged Women by Victoria Smith and The Patriarchs: How Men Came to Rule by Angela Saini; Michael Cronin on The Gospel According to the New World by Maryse Condé, translated by Richard Philcox; Claire Hennessy on the best new YA fiction; Arnold Fanning on Milk by Alice Kinsella; Sarah Moss on The Night Walks Down by Fiona McFarlane; Neil Hegarty on Wild Embrace by Anja Murray; Paul Cullen on Time to Think: The Inside Story of the Collapse of the Tavistock’s Gender Service for Children by Hannah Barnes; Helen Cullen on Cursed Bread by Sophie Mackintosh; Niamh Donnelly on The Gospel of Orla Eoghan Walls; Rachel Andrews on Siblings by Brigitte Reimann, translated by Lucy Jones; and Sarah Gilmartin on Juno Loves Legs by Karl Geary.

Forever Home by Graham Norton is this weekend’s Irish Times Eason offer. You can buy the TV star’s latest acclaimed bestseller for just €4.99, a €6 saving, with your paper at any branch.

Simon & Schuster UK’s Scribner imprint has acquired Nesting by Roisín O’Donnell in a fiercely contested nine-publisher auction. it will will be published as a Scribner super lead title in February 2025.


The synopsis reads: It is 2018 and Dublin rents are soaring, homelessness is rising and families are being forced into emergency accommodation. For Ciara Fay, home is no longer safe. Eight weeks pregnant with a third child, she knows she can’t stay in her marriage. Her family are in England but her daughters can’t leave Ireland without their father’s permission. This is not the first time Ciara has tried to escape. With no money and no job, emergency accommodation at the run-down Hotel Eden is the only option. But as summer passes and winter closes in, Ciara struggles with raising two children in a hotel room, searching for a home and dealing with an abusive ex. Nesting is a powerful portrait of a woman’s fight for freedom for herself and her children that explores the meaning of home.

Sophie Missing, Scribner Publishing Director, said: ‘I read Nesting in two gulps, my heart in my throat. Roisín is a rare talent, an extraordinary writer who balances gravity and humour to devastatingly powerful effect. Like the very best fiction, Ciara’s is a story that not only stays with you but impacts the way you look at the world. The response across S&S was passionate and unanimous. This is a book that is going to speak to people in a profound way.’

O’Donnell said: ‘I’m over the moon that Nesting has found a home at Scribner in the UK and Algonquin in the US. Sophie, Betsy and their teams have really taken Nesting to their hearts, and I feel incredibly lucky to be surrounded by such supportive and lovely people. I’m grateful to my wonderful agent Eleanor Birne, who has been there for me every step of the way. Much of the first draft of Nesting was written on my phone, in stolen snatches of time in the wee small hours. While this all very much still feels like a dream I might wake up from at any moment, I’m excited for the publication journey ahead.’

O’Donnell’s short story ‘Sleep Watchers’ was shortlisted for Short Story of the Year at the An Post Irish Book Awards this year. Her story, ‘How to Build a Space Rocket’, won the same prize in 2018. She is the author of the collection Wild Quiet, published by New Island Books in 2016, which was longlisted for the Edge Hill Short Story Prize 2017, listed in the Irish Times’ favourite books of 2016 and was shortlisted for the Kate O’Brien Award 2017 as well as the International Rubery Book Award. Her short fiction has featured in The Stinging Fly, The Tangerine, the Irish Times and many other places. Other stories have been selected for major anthologies such as The Long Gaze Back, and have featured on RTÉ Radio. Nesting is her first novel. She lives near Dublin with her two children.

Christina Carty has been shortlisted for the Comedy Women in Print Award (unpublished category) for her debut novel While He Looked at the Moon, which has already won the 2023 Irish Writers’ Centere Novel Fair. Her performance poetry has been widely published and she is currently working on her first bi-lingual collection, supported by the Arts Council.

While He Looked at the Moon is an anti-romcom told by Emma, an Irish Londoner, who struggles with monogamy and taxes. Jennifer Young, chair of the unpublished novel category noted: “The shortlist judging this year was the hardest it’s been in the four years of CWIP”.

Christina is also a poet and screenwriter; most recently commissioned by TG4 to write original comedy-drama, Ag Briseadh Tríd (Breaking Through). based on a prose poem she wrote last year. She co-wrote comedy Filthy which was nominated for the Funny Women Comedy Writing Award and subsequently picked up by DLT Entertainment. She also co-created web-series and short film Milly & Clare on MADE TV. She joined the NT playwriting course, where she created ‘Skydiving’, a surreal musical comedy that was performed at Shoreditch Townhall. Prior to that, she wrote ‘Heart Shop’ (BAC Scratch Festival) ‘The Intern’ (workshopped at Southbank Centre) and ‘Accidents’ (Queens Theatre New Writing Festival).

Christina trained as an actor at the Oxford School of Drama and was the lead in IFTA nominated adaptation of Lady Windermere’s Fan, Belonging to Laura (TV3). She played Virginia Woolf in Downton Abbey and also in the feature London Unplugged. She graduated from the Creative Writing MA program at Brunel last year.

Liz Nugent will be in conversation with Sinead Crowley at the Pavilion Theatre on Sunday, March 26th at 8pm discussing her new Irish No 1 bestseller Strange Sally Diamond, in association with Murder One Crime Writing Festival. Tickets are €17 and €15. Bestselling US crime writer Harlan Coben will be in conversation with Breda Brown on Tuesday, March 21st, at 8pm on the 4th Floor, dlr LexIcon. Tickets for both events are on sale at

Dublin-born author Emily Bell has won the Christmas/Festive Holiday Romantic Novel Award with her novel, This Year’s for Me and You, at the Romantic Novelists’ Association’s (RNA) annual Romantic Novel Awards for 2023. Bell has had various jobs including bookseller and tour guide and now writes full time. Her first book Baby It’s Cold Outside was an Irish Times bestseller. She lives in north London with her husband and daughter. She commented, ‘I’m so amazed and thrilled to have had my book chosen among such talented company! I owe a big thanks to my publishers Michael Joseph, to my agent Rowan Lawton at the Soho Agency, and to everyone at the RNA, from reader judges to volunteers on the night, who makes these awards possible.’


UCD Library in partnership with Poetry Ireland and ACNI is hosting a series of creative writing workshops using primary source materials from the War of Independence & Civil War as creative prompts. Participants will be invited to submit their work to a special Poetry as Commemoration archive which will be housed in UCD Special Collections. Participants who have family stories or materials relating to the revolutionary period are invited to share these, but no family connection is necessary. All workshops are free and open to all members of the public. The first, with Mary O’Donnell in Kilkenny, is already sold out. The others are: The Source Arts Centre, Thurles, March 14 & 21 at 6pm with writer David McLoghlin (tel: 052 6166131 or email; and Wexford County Archive, Ardcavan with writer Mark Granier March 20 & 27 March at 3pm (Tel: 0539196572).