Dromineer Literary Festival; Dublin Festival of History; Echoes; Bookshop of the Year; Polari Prizes

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

In The Irish Times this Saturday, Emma Dabiri talks to Róisín Ingle about her new book, Disobedient Bodies, and an associated exhibition; Marian Keyes offers life lessons on turning 60; Anne Doyle tells Rosita Boland about her anthology of ghost stories; bestselling author Heather Morris talks to Edel Coffey about her latest book and, ahead of her appearance at Murder One, there is a Q&A with crime writer Sophie Hannah.

Reviews are Ian Hughes on Vienna: How the City of Ideas Created the Modern World by Richard Cockett; Niall Ó Dochartaigh on the British Army in Northern Ireland 1969-1975 by Huw Bennett; Declan Burke on the best crime fiction; Keith Duggan on Elon Musk by Walter Issacson; Mei Chin on National Dish by Anya von Bremzen; Stephen Walker on Rough Beast by Máiría Cahill; Kevin Power on North Woods by Daniel Mason; and Sarah Gilmartin on The Night-Side of the River by Jeanette Winterson.

This week’s Irish Times Eason offer is Exiles by Jane Harper, her latest bestselling thriller. You can buy it for €5.99, a €5 saving with your paper at any store.



Fiction, crime, memoir, sport, style, art and drama make for a varied lineup at this year’s Dromineer and Nenagh Literary Festival.

The opening night features local writers Eleanor Hooker and Sean O’Connor and novelist Siobhan McGowan reading from their work. Emma Donoghue will be joined onstage by Sinéad Gleeson to discuss her new novel, Learned by Heart.

Also taking part are award-winning writers Vona Groarke and Kit de Waal; crime authors Catherine Ryan Howard and Andrea Mara.

Solsborough House is the perfect setting for Emily Hourican to discuss her fourth Guinness Girls novel, An Invitation to the Kennedys

Claire Walsh will discuss her candid and captivating memoir Under Water on the annual Sunday morning cruise with Lia Hynes. Robert O’Byrne will be at Nenagh Castle discussing the lives of 10 families whose houses were burned down during the Irish Civil War with Vona Groake. There’ll also be music at this event by harpist Laura O’Sullivan and singer Cathie Ryan.

Ageing well will be the central message of hotelier and TV presenter Francis Brennan’s talk at Ashley Park House on Sunday 8th October. He’ll be joined by local baritone Dylan Rooney.

The GAA today will be the focus of an event with Eimear Ryan, author of The Grass Ceiling and Stephen Murphy of Second Captains and author of This is the Life. They’ll be looking at the role of women in the GAA and the plight of rural clubs in conversation with disability activist Joanne O’Riordan.

There’ll be theatre in the Nenagh Arts Centre. DNLF presents Paddy Goes to Petra written and directed by Áine Ryan. Do Chuala Cheoil is a beautiful collaboration between Fiona Kelleher, Caoimhín Vallely and Dónal Ó Céilleachair based on the poetry of Seamus Ó Céilleachair and Seán Ó Riordán (An Creagar). This 45-minute film with music, poetry and visuals follows the course of the River Sullane, marrying the scenery with the poems and music, while adding elements of animation. This will be followed with a talk in Ballycommon by ecologist, broadcaster and nature enthusiast Anja Murray whose recent book Wild Embrace is an antidote to eco-anxiety, as she awakens us to the unseen wonders of Ireland’s natural world. DNLF.ie


Dublin Festival of History’s Big Weekend will explore topics including the history of Ireland told through the tale of 18 murders; the changing nature of women during the foundation of the Irish state; and the Roman Empire. The Big Weekend takes place in The Printworks at Dublin Castle from Friday, September 29 to Sunday, October 1.

Highlights include: Tom Holland, who will be discussing his latest history of the Roman Empire, Pax; Roger Moorhouse will tell the story of The Forgers – a forgotten story of a Holocaust rescue – one of the largest rescue missions of the entire war; Fin Dwyer will look at pivotal moments in Ireland’s past tied together by one common trait: murder; a discussion on the Border dividing the island of Ireland with Diarmaid Ferriter, Síobhra Aiken and Cormac Moore; Elaine Farrell and Leanne McCormick, creators of the Bad Bridget podcast, will join Anna Carey to explore the remarkable lives of Irish emigrant women; Liz Gillis, Mary McAuliffe and Sinead McCoole in conversation with Margaret Ward on the changing role of women in Ireland during the foundation of the Irish State; Pádraig Pearse’s time as Editor of An Chlaidheamh Solais; and a panel discussion on the challenges facing the Irish language and revival communities following the Civil War. dublinfestivalofhistory.ie


The TS Eliot lecture returns to the Abbey stage on December 17th. Produced by the TS Eliot Estate in association with the Abbey Theatre, the eighth in the series, Journey of the Magi, is named for T. S. Eliot’s 1927 poem of the same name and will be delivered by Jeanette Winterson followed by a discussion with Mark O’Connell.


A dozen bookshops have been longlisted for the ‘An Post Bookshop of the Year’ category at this year’s Irish Book Awards.

Previous winners include Kennys Bookshop and Art Gallery, Galway in 2021 and Bridge Street Books, Wicklow in 2022.

The 2023 longlist is: Bridge Books Dromore, Co. Down; Bridge Street Books, Wicklow; Castle Book & Card Centre, Castlebar, Mayo; The Clifden Bookshop, Co Galway; Halfway Up the Stairs, Greystones, Wicklow; Kerr’s Bookshop Clonakilty, Co. Cork; Liber, Sligo; Little Acorns Bookstore, Derry; Maynooth Bookshop, Kildare; O’Mahony’s Booksellers, Limerick; Tales for Tadpoles, Bray, Wicklow; Tertulia, Westport, Mayo.

Customers were asked to vote for their favourite bookshops and to explain the reason for their choice. The bookshops that received the most votes were then longlisted and invited by the judges to enter a written submission. Mystery shoppers will now visit the 12 bookshops as part of the judging process to establish the shortlist of six, to be announced on October 19th. The overall winner will be presented with their trophy at the Irish Book Awards event on November 22nd along with a prize worth €15,000 from An Post Commerce.


The Royal Society Science Book Prize 2023 shortlist has been announced and it features the youngest shortlistee in the prize’s history, with a book about ageing: debut author Nicklas Brendborg – a PhD student of molecular biology at the University of Copenhagen – who takes readers on a journey through cutting-edge research from the natural world. Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Ed Yong is recognised for the second time, having previously appeared on the 2017 list, revealing unfathomable new dimensions to the world we live in through the eyes of various animal species.

The list in full is: Nuts and Bolts: Seven Small Inventions That Changed the World (in a Big Way) by Roma Agrawal; Jellyfish Age Backwards: Nature’s Secrets to Longevity by Nicklas Brendborg, translated by Elizabeth de Noma; Taking Flight: The Evolutionary Story of Life on the Wing by Lev Parikian; Breathless: The Scientific Race to Defeat a Deadly Virus by David Quammen; An Immense World: How Animal Senses Reveal the Hidden Realms Around Us by Ed Yong; and The Exceptions: Nancy Hopkins and the Fight for Women in Science by Kate Zernike (Simon & Schuster)

The winner will be revealed at a ceremony on November 22nd.


The brilliant mystery writer Raymond Chandler spent his childhood in three different countries, the US, Ireland and England, and each place had a distinct influence on his writing and personality.

‘The Big Sleep’, his first novel, was published in 1939, elevating the hardboiled detective story to classic crime literature. Chandler went on to write numerous stories and seven novels, many filmed and now regarded as classics of the Film Noir genre.

Chandler biographer Judith Freeman comes to Waterford Library on October 11th at 6.30pm to discuss his early years, with a special emphasis on his time living in Waterford with his Irish relatives. Booking required on 051 849975 or email CentralLibrary@waterfordcouncil.ie.


Memoir, non-fiction, and critically acclaimed literary fiction from a mixture of independent presses and larger publishers dominate the shortlists for this year’s Polari Prize and Polari First Book Prize, the UK’s only dedicated awards for LGBTQ+ literature.

Paul Burston, the prize founder, said: “The quality of long-listed titles this year was so exceptionally high, a number of much-loved titles didn’t make the shortlists. Taken together, this year’s shortlists are a powerful testament to the quality and diversity of LGBTQ+ writing in the UK and Ireland today. From dazzling debuts to writers delivering on their earlier promise and really upping their game, these are books to entertain, enrich and inspire.”

The 2023 Polari Book Prize shortlist features: Our Wives Under the Sea by Julia Armfield; All Down Darkness Wide by Seán Hewitt; Here Again Now by Okechukwu Nzelu; Fire Island by Jack Parlett; Young Mungo by Douglas Stuart; The Schoolhouse by Sophie Ward.

The 2023 Polari First Book Prize shortlist features: None of the Above by Travis Alabanza; Rising of the Black Sheep by Livia Kojo Alour; The New Life by Tom Crewe; A Visible Man by Edward Enninful; Love from the Pink Palace by Jill Nalder;The Whale Tattoo by Jon Ransom.

The Polari Prize will return to the British Library for a second year for the winner ceremony on November 24th.


Echoes returns to Dalkey Castle and Heritage Centre from October 6th to 8th.

On Friday 6th End of Term, a rehearsed reading of Maeve’s first stage play, directed by Conall Morrison with a stellar cast, will be performed.

Then on Saturday 7th, there will be an exciting day of conversations and readings featuring: Francis Brennan, Aingeala Flannery, Edel Coffey, Emer McLysaght, Donal Fallon, Clodagh Finn, Nicola Tallant, Karina Molloy, Maeve O’Rourke, Katie Hannon, Neil Hegarty, Caroline Erskine, Madeleine Keane, Lia Mills, Christine Dwyer Hickey, Andrew Hughes, Niall Mac Monagle, Oliver Callan, Deirdre O’Kane, Sarah Binchy, Gordon Snell and more.

Francis Brennan will be talking about having Maeve Binchy to stay, while Aingeala Flannery, Edel Coffey, and Emer McLysaght will be discussing why Maeve was the standard bearer for authors who came after her. There will also be a Maeve Binchy and Irish Writers Walk taking place from Dalkey Castle at 11am on Sunday 8th October. Full details at echoes.ie


In one of the most helpful collaborations in Irish writing for years, Books Ireland editor Ruth McKee has gathered together some of our most talented authors, editors, publishers, and creative professionals to create an insightful and practical guide for writers.

Whether you’re just getting started or are ready for the next step, this handbook speaks with the voices of 50 different industry experts, with comprehensive and up-to-date listings for all the services, publishers and resources Irish writers will find useful.

Along with beautiful essays on craft, there are articles on the practicalities of the writing life, from earning a living to managing your time, from querying a newspaper editor to landing a gig at a festival. Whether you write fiction or non-fiction, illustrate books for young people or are an emerging poet, this is a reliable guide.

Featuring advice from fifty contributors, including Donal Ryan, Jan Carson, Kevin Power, Kit de Waal, Madeleine Keane, Nuala O’Connor, Patrick O’Donoghue, Una Mannion, Vanessa Fox O’Loughlin, Brian Langan, David Butler, Deirdre Nolan and many more, readers can learn from the full spectrum of the Irish book industry.

The Irish Writers Handbook is available to pre-order now.


The 12th ISLA Festival (Irish, Spanish Latin American Festival), organised by the Dublin branch of Instituto Cervantes in collaboration with the Hispanic embassies in Ireland, will take place on October 11th and 12th in the Instituto Cervantes in Dublin.

Seeking to create dialogue between Ireland’s most representative voices and their counterparts in Spanish-speaking countries, ISLA has hosted some of the most outstanding names in contemporary literature.

Among the authors this year are the Irish writers Claire Kilroy and Paul Lynch, as well as Mónica Müller (Argentina), Velia Vidal (Colombia) and Gustavo Rodríguez (Peru). The Spanish poet and translator Jordi Doce, together with Marie Heaney will pay homage to the Nobel Prize winner Seamus Heaney. Finally, a meeting with Claire Keegan and Declan Kiberd promises to reveal the keys to the charm and seduction of Irish literature through the voice of one of its main and most well-known protagonists.

Free admission but booking is required: eventbrite.com/cc/isla-2023-2390129