Gutter Bookshop changes hands; Irish on Edge Hill prize shortlist; Dublin Book Festival launched

Books newsletter: a preview of Saturday’s pages and a wrap of the latest news

In The Irish Times this Saturday, Mary Beard talks to Anna Carey about her new book on Roman emperors. There is an extract from Goth: A History by Lol Tolhurst of The Cure. Jason Byrne is interviewed by Kate Demolder about Memoirs of a Wonky-Eyed Man. Manchán Magan talks to Róisín Ingle about his new book, Wolf-Men and Water Hounds: The Myths, Monsters and Magic of Ireland. Richard O’Rawe talks to Mark Devenport about Stakeknife’s Dirty War. And there is a Q&A with Daniel Mason, author of North Woods.

Reviews are Ann Scanlon on Goth: A History by Lol Tolhurst; Season of The Witch: The Book of Goth by Cathi Unsworth; and The Art of Darkness: The History of Goth by John Robb; Stephen Walker on Stakeknife’s Dirty War by Richard O’Rawe; Edel Coffey on An Invitation to the Kennedys by Emily Hourican; Claire Hennessy on the best new YA fiction; Jack Horgan-Jones on We Need to Talk by Tony Holohan; Matthew Shipsey on Asylum by Brendan Kelly; Aimée Walsh on The Celestial Realm by Molly Hennigan; Freya McClements on The Padre by Jennifer O’Leary; Muiris Houston on Remedies by Cecily Gilligan; Rónán Hession on The End of August by Yu Miri tr. Morgan Giles; and Joseph O’Connor on The Coming Thing by Martina Evans.

This weekend’s Irish Times Eason offer is Exiles, the latest crime novel by the brilliant Jane Harper. You can buy it for €5.99, a €5 saving, with your paper at any branch.

From 18th September, Dubray will take over the management of The Gutter Bookshop in Dublin and Dalkey. After dedicating 14 years to running the business, The Gutter Bookshop’s founder Bob Johnston has decided to embark on new adventures.


After opening in 2009, The Gutter Bookshop quickly established itself as a beloved brand in the Irish bookselling community with branches in Temple Bar and Dalkey. The popularity and high regard in which the stores are held was recognised at the 2017 British Book Awards when the Gutter Bookshop was awarded Independent Bookshop of the Year for UK and Ireland.

As well as general book sales the Gutter team also supports a wide range of events, festivals and book clubs, and sells online via its website

Both shops will continue to trade as The Gutter Bookshop with current Online & Festivals Manager Marta Starosta moving into the role of overall manager, working with the existing booksellers and supported by the Dubray management team.

Dubray general manager Maria Dickenson said, “As book trade colleagues we have always had great respect for and a fond relationship with the Gutter team. Dubray and the Gutter share a love of books as well as a genuine commitment to building relationships with customers, authors and the trade, and we are immensely proud to have the opportunity to support this fantastic business.”

Bob Johnston commented, “As Irish booksellers with many years of experience I am certain that Dubray will continue to run our bookshops in a customer-focused style – which is all I could ever hope for. I really want to thank everyone – loyal customers, authors, publishers, festivals, friends, family, our amazing staff and everyone else – who have made The Gutter Bookshop such a huge success over the past 14 years.”

The 2023 Edge Hill Short Story Prize has selected an all-female shortlist, which includes two Irish authors, Rosemary Jenkinson and Bernie McGill, and two debut collections. The winner, to be announced in January, will be presented with an award of £10,000.

The shortlisted collections are: Total by Rebecca Miller (Canongate); Love in the Time of Chaos by Rosemary Jenkinson (Arlen House); Cat Brushing & Other Stories by Jane Campbell (Riverrun); Animals at Night by Naomi Booth (Dead Ink Books); and This Train is for … by Bernie McGill (No Alibis Press)

The prize is run by senior lecturer in creative writing Billy Cowan, who said: “We’re really excited to celebrate five fantastic female-authored collections through this year’s shortlist.”

“It’s been another successful year for small independent publishers who continue to support the short story form and it’s great to see some previous shortlisted writers in the mix again, along with new entrants to the Edge Hill Prize.

A £1,000 Reader’s Choice Award will be presented to one of the shortlisted authors, as well as a £500 prize for the best short story submitted by an Edge Hill MA Creative Writing student.

The judges of the 2023 prize are last year’s winner Saba Sams, C&W literary agent Lucy Luck and Edge Hill’s own Andrea Ashworth, short story writer and lecturer in creative writing.

The annual prize seeks to highlight the diverse voices and exceptional talents of contemporary short story writers, celebrating both emerging and established authors. Previous winners include acclaimed authors such as Sarah Hall, David Szalay, Tessa Hadley, Kevin Barry and Daisy Johnson.

Now in its 17th year, the Edge Hill Prize is the only annual UK-based award to recognise excellence in a single-author short story collection. The Edge Hill Short Story Prize was founded in 2006 by the world’s first Professor of Short Fiction, Ailsa Cox, to highlight the intricate artisanship of short story writing and acknowledge the wealth of published collections available.

The Dublin Book Festival returns from November 8th to 12th with five days of literary and creative events for adults and children. With both established and emerging authors in conversation, panel discussions, poetry, walking tours, professional development events, a schools programme and a full weekend of free events for all the family, there will be something for all book lovers to enjoy. Featuring established authors including Anne Enright, Claire Kilroy and John Connolly, as well as newer voices in both fiction and poetry.

There will be launches celebrating new books and the latest issues of literary journals and magazines, including Winter Papers and Sonder, as well as special events celebrating the works of late poet Brendan Kennelly, and 30 years of great stories brought to you by independent publisher New Island. Annual favourite events return, including the RTÉ Radio 1 Arena Launch night, Dublin City Libraries’ Readers Morning featuring a great line-up of contemporary authors, and the Writing History event bringing history to life through fiction.

As the evening kicks in and dark descends, DBF After Dark offers a series of literary events in venues across the city, from spooky readings in the historic Marsh’s Library, to a dynamic poetry slam at The Wild Duck in Temple Bar, and an evening of words and music with authors who are also musicians at Glass Mask Theatre on Dawson Street. The Festival Hub is once again at The Printworks, Dublin Castle, at the heart of the city, with a full weekend of free literary and creative events for all the family to enjoy with some of the country’s favourite children’s authors. Science Week 2023 kicks off on Sunday November 12th, and DBF is delighted to be taking part for the first time with a day including events exploring themes of ecology, the climate, sustainability and more. See the full programme and book at


Children’s Books Ireland have announced the launch of a new campaign, ‘Reading Matters’. The campaign, accompanied by the publication of the organisation’s annual reading guide, aims to drive home the importance of reading in creating a welcoming, inclusive and open society.

In recent months, libraries and bookshops have been the target of protests by far-right groups, attempting to restrict young people’s access to diverse and inclusive books. Today, Children’s Books Ireland calls on the public to recall the positive impact that reading can have on children’s imagination, empathy and understanding of others, and to stand with the Irish book community in ensuring that these books can continue to reach their readers.

The Reading Matters reading guide features 286 titles published in 2023, bringing together the best in children’s and YA publishing across a variety of formats, from fiction and non-fiction to poetry and graphic novels. Highlighting the excellent books created by authors, illustrators and publishers on this island, Irish titles are marked with a shamrock symbol throughout. Reviews are in English and as Gaeilge, with cover artwork commissioned from the Irish illustrator, Róisín Hahessy.

Elaina Ryan, CEO of Children’s Books Ireland, said: ‘It might be easy to think, sometimes, in a busy world, that reading doesn’t matter quite so much as it used to for children and young people when there are so many ways for them to spend their time. And yet, we believe that reading matters. It really matters. Sometimes, it can be life-saving.

‘Reading is freedom – in the sense that it opens the world up to be explored and introduces important ideas to young readers: equality, justice, kindness, empathy. Reading is also freedom of expression, freedom of speech, and it matters that everyone can tell their story and can read a version of their story in a book. Reading matters because every single thing that children and young people will face in life can be found in a book and explored safely there. There is power in a book.’

Reading Matters is now available for free in libraries nationwide, with a copy being sent to every primary and secondary school in Ireland. The guide is also free to download from the Children’s Books Ireland website:


A new festival covering topics as diverse as conspiracy, AI, poetry, opera, deaf studies and 16th century beer-making is being hosted in Trinity College Dublin next week from September 25th to 29th, featuring a range of talks, interactive discussions, lightening presentations, visual art and film screenings. The events are free and open to all.

The festival, organised by the Trinity Long Room Hub Arts and Humanities Research Institute, will provide a fascinating window into Trinity’s Arts and Humanities subjects and the work that university researchers do interrogating culture and history, and exploring language use in the arts and everyday life.

Speakers are Sean Hewitt, Yairen Jerez Columbié, and Nidhi Zak; writer Sebastian Barry; composer Evangelia Rigaki and playwright Marina Carr; historians Susan Flavin and Jane Ohlmeyer; Scotty McQueen as ‘Crazy Conspiracy Dude’; English scholars Aileen Douglas, Padraic Whyte, Chris Morash, Sam Slote and Darryl Jones; Beyond 2022 artist Mairead McClean and Ireland’s Border Culture archivist Orla Fitzpatrick; Trinity’s Chair of French Michael Cronin; ancient writing expert Martin Worthington, and more! Full programme of events here.

The Ukrainian Community Centre in Rathmines last week launched the Young Ukrainian Readers book series by Ukrainian writer Halyna Budilova. The texts are very simple, with short sentences and lots of repetitions to help children reinforce their reading skills. All books in the series come with audio support, making them extremely useful and practical guides for young readers in Ukraine and abroad who are just beginning to learn the Ukrainian language.

Irish poet, author and translator Gabriel Rosenstock is the 2023 recipient of the Annual Children’s Books Ireland Award for his outstanding contribution to children’s books. The announcement, made at the Children’s Books Ireland International Conference this weekend, recognised his lifelong work to provide Irish children with access to stories in their native language.

CEO of Children’s Books Ireland Elaina Ryan said: “For years, Gabriel Rosenstock has been a vital force in Irish children’s publishing, working across languages and disciplines to share illuminating and spellbinding stories. In 2015, his book ‘Haiku, Más é do thoil é!’ was recognised by the Children’s Books Ireland Awards for the Judges’ Special Award, and we are thrilled to present him today with this Award on behalf of Children’s Books Ireland, and the wider Irish children’s books community, for his tireless work in bringing excellent literature to his readers.”

Gabriel has written several collections of poetry and stories for children in Irish and English, including Dánta Duitse, Púcaí Schmúcaí agus Dánta Eile, Fear na bPéistíní and The Confessions of Henry Hooter the Third: Poems for Owlish Children. He has also worked extensively on translating popular books and television series for children into Irish, including The Gruffalo, The Adventures of Tintin, Owl Babies, Watership Down and The Muppet Show.

Rosenstock was nominated by Jane Landy, Tadhg Mac Dhonnagáin and Amanda Bell, who describe him as having “revolutionised Irish poetry for youngsters”. To them, his generosity in widening access to storytelling is most evident in his publishing of his titles for free through platforms such as ‘Léigh Leat’ and ‘FreeKidsBooks.’

Rosenstock said: “In a recent bilingual volume of poems ‘Garsún: Boy’ (Arlen House), I reminisce on how the tales of Hans-Christian Andersen opened up my heart to the sufferings and the aspirations of others. This has been one of the guiding principles of my own original work for children, as well as countless translations and adaptations for such platforms as Léigh Leat and Free Kids Books, and it’s in this spirit that I accept the award, gratefully.”


Literature Ireland has launched Blúiríní, videos filmed across Ireland by JP Quill, featuring writers Niamh Campbell, Elaine Feeney, Aingeala Flannery, Nicole Flattery, Seán Hewitt, Niamh Mulvey, David Toms, and Sophie White.

Irish for little snippets, Blúiríní offers insights into the writers’ home places. Contributors introduce their most recent book, recommend a title by another Irish author and imagine their own work in translation.

Starting with Booker-longlisted Elaine Feeney, the videos will be released on Literature Ireland’s YouTube channel and on other platforms prior to Literature Ireland’s participation at the Frankfurt Book Fair this October. Accompanying music is by Myles O’Reilly.

“With Blúiríní, Literature Ireland builds an awareness of new voices in Irish literature and communicates the sense of excitement writers experience at the prospect of their work being translated,” said Sinéad Mac Aodha, Director of Literature Ireland. “We are grateful to the Arts Council for supporting this new chapter in our promotion of great Irish writing.”

On Saturday, September 30th, at 1pm, Books at One, Community Bookshop in Louisburgh will celebrate International Translation Day with award-winning bilingual poet Isabela Basombrío Hoban.

Basombrío Hoban is originally from Peru and lives in Ireland. Her recent books are ‘Nothing Compares to Everyone’ (Nada pertenece a todos 2022) and ‘Rain Love Death Poets’ (Lluvia Amor Muerte Poetas 2023) both published by Ediciones Vitruvio. She is also signed with Salmon Poetry for her future publications.

She won the 2023 Premio Nuevo Ateneo Online (New Athenaeum Online Award), which recognizes authors who have written an important work of great literary value and who strive to contribute to new forms of cultural diffusion to reach the reading public. Isabela has received awards from the Mayo County Council Arts Office and Culture Ireland.

Isabela will start with a short introduction around bilingual writing and translation then will read from her new book ‘Rain Love Death Poets’ with music by musician John Hoban. This is a free event and all are very welcome.

An exciting new programme has been announced for the Red Line Book Festival on October 16th – 22nd with over 40 events in fascinating performance venues including the Civic Theatre, Tallaght Stadium, Rathfarnham Castle, Pearse Museum, the Coach House, Palmerstown and Brú Chrónáin-Round Tower Visitor Centre Clondalkin.  The festival is produced by South Dublin Libraries and Arts at South Dublin County Council, offering a programme of events and workshops that appeals to people of all ages and interests, from children to adults, casual readers to bookworms. 

This year, The Red Line Book Festival will present events in six different strands including ‘Family’, ‘Fiction & Poetry’, ‘Performance’, ‘Crime & Horror’,’Lifestyle’ and ‘History’.  The festival programme is once again packed with wonderful authors and personalities such as John Banville, Gerry Creighton, Emer McLysaght and Sarah Breen, C Pam Zhang and Andrea Mara, Niall Quinn and Francis Brennan  to name but a few.  Visitors can also look forward to meeting crime journalist and podcaster Nicola Tallant with authors Nick Foster, Sharon Lawless and Maresa Fagan.  The Queenship Cypher explores the art of lyrical storytelling and the programme aims to attract aspiring female MCs, producers, dancers, and visual artists. See for the full programme of events taking place across all venues.