Eason book offer; Saturday’s pages; Walter Scott and Jean Monnet Prizes; Cairde Word
A round-up of the latest literary news
American Dirt by Jeanine Cummins is this week’s Irish Times Eason offer. With every copy of The Irish Times bought in any branch on Saturday, you can buy a copy of the bestseller for only €4.99, a saving of €5. Read our review and an interview with the author.
Reviews in Saturday’s Irish Times are Maureen Gaffney on The Rag and Bone Shop: How We Make Memories and Memories Make Us by Veronica O’Keane; Eoghan Smith on The Sunken Road by Ciaran McMenamin; Luke Warde on Pure Gold by John Patrick McHugh; Niamh Donnelly on Before My Actual Heart Breaks by Tish Delaney; Malachy Clerkin on Above Water by Trish Kearney; Sarah Gilmartin on A Good Father by Catherine Talbot; Declan Hughes on the best new crime fiction; and Paul Clements on local history books.
Donal Ryan has been shortlisted for the Prix Jean Monnet 2021, one of France’s most prestigious literary prizes, for the French translation of his novel, From A Low and Quiet Sea (Par une mer basse et tranquille), translated by Marie Hermet.
Also shortlisted are Manuel Vilas, Kjell Westö, Georges-Olivier Châteaureynaud, Milena Agus, Sandro Veronesi, Arnon Grunberg, and Dragan Velikic.
The prize, which is now in its 27th year, was won last year by Spanish author Almudena Grandes for Les patients du docteur García. No Irish author has won the prize and only two Anglophone writers: William Boyd (2003) and JG Ballard (2005). The €5,000 prize will be awarded on November 20th at the Littératures Européennes Cognac festival.
Authors from five of the 39 Unesco Cities of Literature were appointed by the National Centre for Writing UK to share their book recommendations with partner cities as part of their 2021 virtual writing residency. An international flavour is evident in the resulting selection from the authors’ home countries of Ireland, Iceland, New Zealand, Scotland and Poland.
Lynn Buckle, representing Dublin as Unesco Writer in Residence at the NCW, chooses nature-themed books, in keeping with her own writing projects. They include Thirty-Two Words for Field by Manchán Magan (Gill), John Boorman’s Nature Diary (Lilliput), Ian Maleny’s Minor Monuments (Tramp), Marianne Lee’s A Quiet Tide (New Island), and Kerri ní Dochartaigh’s Thin Places (Canongate).
Valur Gunnarsson suggests reading the Icelandic classic The Lodger by Svava Jakobsdóttir and New Zealander Liz Breslin gives an insight into te reo Maori poetry by highlighting, among others, Iona Winter. Vahni Capildeo introduces us to some Scottish poets in Vagabond’s Our Real Red Selves and Marcin Wilk invites us to be thrilled and amused by reading Poland’s retro detective story Mrs Mohr Goes Missing by Maryla Szymiczkowa.
Lynn Buckle is author of The Groundsmen and What Willow Says, to be published by époque press on May 27th.
Head of Zeus ommissioning editor Rosie de Courcy is to publish The Belladonna Maze, and a second novel, by Irish writer and RTÉ arts correspondent Sinead Crowley in September 2022.
The novel is described as a stylish, dual timeline family saga, spanning three generations of women who inherit a great country house in the west of Ireland, haunted since the Famine.
Crowley said: “Rosie de Courcy has edited some of my favourite books, and I’m both delighted and honoured to be working with her and the Head of Zeus team. I loved writing The Belladonna Maze during the strange months of 2020. It was a joy to open my laptop at night and escape to Grace’s world and I can’t wait to share that world with readers.”
De Courcy said: “It is always thrilling when a distinguished author surprises you with something completely new and unexpected. From the very first page I knew I wanted to publish this lovely novel.”
Hamnet by Maggie O’Farrell has been longlisted for the Walter Scott Prize for Historical Fiction.
The other 10 books in contention for the £25,000 prize are: Hinton by Mark Blacklock; The Tolstoy Estate by Steven Conte; The Year Without Summer by Guinevere Glasfurd; A Room Made of Leaves by Kate Grenville; Mr Beethoven by Paul Griffiths; Afterlives by Abdulrazak Gurnah; A Treacherous Country by KL Kruimink; The Mirror and the Light by Hilary Mantel; Islands of Mercy by Rose Tremain; and The Dictionary of Lost Words by Pip Williams.
The judges said: “Historical fiction has not obeyed any lockdown. Instead, in this year’s new publishing, there has been an explosion of lively ideas and fresh ways of storytelling, with traditional notions of historical fiction stretched and tested. The Walter Scott Prize 2021 longlist authors – some well-established, some newer voices – challenge, charm, alarm, comfort, and electrify. Each book in its own way fulfils the WSP criteria of ambition, originality and innovation, with fine writing always the priority.
‘Readers of this year’s longlist will be spirited into jungles, political intrigues and even the pages of dictionaries; smell a most extraordinary sea; hear music never written; and touch the fourth dimension. When escape has never been more appealing, the 2021 Walter Scott Prize longlist authors will gather you up and sweep you away.’
Previous winners include Hilary Mantel, Andrea Levy, Sebastian Barry, Robert Harris, and, last year, Christine Dwyer Hickey. A shortlist will be announced at the end of April, and a winner in mid-June.
Cairde Sligo Arts Festival invites entrants to Cairde Word, its inaugural short story competition, from March 1st to April 30th. The judges are Sinéad Gleeson and Louise Kennedy. Kennedy said: “I’ll never forget the sense of validation and purpose my first short-listing in a writing contest gave me. The Cairde Word short story competition, with its particularly wonderful prizes, is a fantastic new opportunity for writers and I’m thrilled to have been asked to join Sinéad in the judging process.”
The first prize is €2,000. The longlist will be announced on June 9th, followed by the shortlist on June 23rd. The winners will be announced during the festival on July 10th. For details visit here.
The 11-strong longlist for the Seamus Heaney Award for New Writing 2021, announced today by Community Arts Partnership, remarkably features three poems by the same poet, Jim McElroy – Health and Safety; Olga Draws the World; and Sheep Carcass.
The other poets listed are: Judith Thurley; Margaret A. Sands; Máirín Uí Cheallaigh; Teresa Kane; Glen Wilson; Sue Steging; Charlene O’Donnell; and Colin Hassard. Their poems and the results of the Seamus Heaney Award for New Writing will be broadcast on March 28th at 3pm on the CAP website. Community Arts Partnership’s latest poetry anthology for 2021, Heartland, will be launched at this event.
The first NI Writers Day will take place on Tuesday, March 23rd. Hosted by the Royal Society of Literature and Arts Council of Northern Ireland, the event will be chaired by award-winning writer Paul McVeigh. In conversation with RSL director Molly Rosenberg, they will discuss why a community of writers is important and how to recommend a writer to the RSL Open Fellowship Programme.
Award-winning poet and Chair of the RSL, Daljit Nagra, will deliver a free hour-long workshop. A panel discussion featuring short-story writer Wendy Erskine, novelist Glenn Patterson, playwright Shannon Yee and poet and Chair of the RSL, Daljit Nagra, will bring the day’s event to a close. To book visit the RSL website.
Blue Moon by Lee Child was the most borrowed book in Irish libraries last year. The Family Gift by Cathy Kelly (2nd) was the most popular Irish title but Liz Nugent features twice in the top 20, with Skin Deep (5th) and Our Little Cruelties (7th). So too do Emer McLysaght and Sarsah Breen with Once, Twice, Three Times an Aisling (6th); and Oh My God, what a Complete Aisling (17th). Becoming by Michelle Obama (4th) was the most popular nonfiction title, followed by Overcoming by Vicky Phelan (11th).