Gatekeeper turns poacher as critic Sarah Gilmartin’s debut novel is announced

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

Sarah Gilmartin: “As a reviewer, I’ve been reading One debuts for years and I’m delighted to be published by an imprint with such a consistently high standard.”

Sarah Gilmartin: “As a reviewer, I’ve been reading One debuts for years and I’m delighted to be published by an imprint with such a consistently high standard.”

 

Gatekeeper turns poacher next year when Sarah Gilmartin, who has been reviewing debut fiction for The Irish Times since 2013, publishes her own debut novel, Dinner Party: A Tragedy with Pushkin Press imprint One.

One’s deputy publisher Laura Macaulay acquired the rights from Sallyanne Sweeney at Mulcahy Associates.

Set in Ireland from the 1990s to the present day, the novel begins with a fraught dinner to mark the anniversary of a death in the family, then explores how the past informs the present, the “inevitability of childhood damage manifesting in later life” and how “despite everything, we can’t help returning home”.

Gilmartin was co-editor of the anthology Stinging Fly Stories (2018) and has just completed a Masters of Fine Arts degree at University College Dublin. She recently won Best Playwright for her short play Match at the Short+Sweet Dublin festival. Her short stories have been listed for the Sean O’Faolain Short Story Award, the RTE Francis MacManus Short Story Award and New Irish Writing. Her story The Wife won the 2020 Máirtín Crawford Award at the Belfast Book Festival in June. Earlier this year, she received a bursary for her novel-in-progress from the Arts Council of Ireland.

Macaulay said: “This dark and twisty novel about an Irish family is so beautifully observed with not a word out of place. It’s an exhilarating drama that reads like a very grown up thriller. Sarah Gilmartin is a serious talent and I’m thrilled to be working with her at the start of her fiction-writing career.”

Gilmartin said: “As a reviewer, I’ve been reading One debuts for years and I’m delighted to be published by an imprint with such a consistently high standard. To find a good home for my novel in these strange times is really something. I look forward to working with Laura and the rest of the team at Pushkin. Roll on 2021.”

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Shadowplay by Joseph O’Connor is this weekend’s Irish Times Eason book offer. You can buy the Costa-shortlisted Irish Novel of the Year about Bram Stoker’s life in London’s theatre world for just €4.99, a saving of €6, when you purchase the paper at any Eason store. It has also been selected by the Richard & Judy Book Club as one of their auumn reads. Their early support for O’Connor’s superb historical epic Star of the Sea gave his career a significant and well-deserved boost. Read our review of Shadowplay here; our interview with the author here; listen to our podcast; and read Joe’s account of Stoker and Dracula here.

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Tomorrow’s Ticket focuses on next week’s US presidential election with four impressive essays on the state of the United States by Pulitzer Prize winning author Richard Ford; Belfast-born US historian Stephanie McCurry; Michael Brendan Dougherty, author of My Father Left Me Ireland: An American Son’s Search For Home; and Hugh Linehan.

In the Magazine, John Creedon, auhtor of That Place We Call Home, writes about how the influence of our neighbours is still seen in many Irish place names today. In Weekend Review, there is an exclusive extract from Anatomy of a Killing: Life and Death on a Divided Island by Ian Cobain, a reconstruction of one Troubles murder which sums up much about the conflict.

Reviews are Olivia O’Leary on Psychiatrist in the Chair, Anthony Clare’s authorised biography by Brendan Kelly and Muiris Houston; Catherine Gander on The Silence by Don DeLillo; Suzanne Lynch on Joe Biden: American Dreamer by Evan Osnos; Helen Cullen on Piranesi by Susanna Clarke ; John Self on Jasper Rees’s biography of Victoria Wood; Paul Clements on local history; Sarah on Lost Cat by Mary Gaitskill; and Declan Hughe son the best new crime fiction, including The Searcher by Tana French.

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Roger Robinson
Roger Robinson

The annual John Hewitt Birthday Reading, in association with Poetry Ireland, will not take place this year in the John Hewitt Bar Belfast, but will be broadcast on the JHS YouTube Channel. Sinéad Morrissey and Roger Robinson, both winners of the TS Eliot Prize, will be taking part on Wednesday, November 3rd, at 7.30pm. To register, please visit www.johnhewittsociety.org

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Dublin Book Festival will run this year from November 27th to December 6th. However, given the move to level 5 restrictions, a number of events that were due to be streamed later in the year will now be made available to book lovers earlier next month.

The DBF Snug, a specially curated package of events, will run from November 10th to 13th. John Boorman (Tuesday 10th, 7pm) will talk abpopout his newly released nature diary and poetry collection John Boorman’s Nature Diary: One Eye, One Finger (Lilliput Press), followed by a screening of his work.

At 8pm, Dr Malie Coyne and Dr Brendan Kelly, in conversation with Trish Murphy, will advise on how to safeguard both our own mental health and offer advice for parents, teachers and carers dealing with children’s anxieties during the pandemic.

On Wednesday 11th, celebrate the healing and transformative power of nature, at 7pm with Darragh McCullough in conversation with Richard Nairn about his new book Wildwoods (Gill Books).

On Thursday 12th at 7pm, celebrate the launch of the latest edition of Winter Papers; its editor Kevin Barry, and three contributors, Tim MacGabhann, Roisin Kiberd and Kerri Ní Dochartaigh, will be in conversation.

On Friday 13th, 7pm, Mary McAleese will talk about her new memoir Here’s the Story (Sandycove) and offer invaluable and inspirational insights from her many years of public service. To book tickets go to dublinbookfestival.com

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London’s Irish Cultural Centre (ICC) is holding a Digital Literary Festival next month. This celebration of contemporary Irish writing will begin on Sunday, November 15th and will run for five weeks. Taking part are John Banville; Dermot Bolger; Emma Donoghue ; Roddy Doyle; Michelle Gallen; Carlo Gébler; Sinéad Gleeson; Colum McCann; Liz Nugent; and Donal Ryan.

The events will be streamed as ten individual author events, as well as a final panel discussion that will consider the authors and their works, and reflect on the themes and concerns raised by the interviews.

Dr Anne Goudsmit, member of the ICC Board, said: “We are delighted to welcome this exceptional line-up of successful Irish writers and their interviewers, to help launch our 25th anniversary celebrations. The range and quality of the writing included here is impressive. From discussions about a novel dealing with the Middle East, to another about post-Troubles Northern Ireland, to conversations about literary crime, historical fiction, and three very different collections of short stories, these entertaining, stimulating and thought-provoking interviews reflect the lively and varied quality of contemporary Irish writing.”

The festival will be available to view online here. All broadcasts will be available to the public free of charge. However, donations will be invited to help support the ICC’s ongoing cultural programme and educational activities.

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A Christmas anthology of short stories featuring new work from Northern writers will launch on November 4th, with all proceeds donated to the Simon Community NI and the World of Owls NI.

Underneath the Tree is funded by the Arts Council of Northern Ireland and includes 12 short stories which all take place over the Christmas period. An online launch will take place via Zoom on November 4th, which is open to the public.

Co-editor Kelly Creighton, said: “These 12 stories by local writers really showcase the different genres that are being worked on at the moment. From crime to comedy, horror to sci-fi, ghost stories to magical realism. The range of voices in this anthology means there is something for every reader. The one thing they all have in common is that they will get you in the festive mood. The perfect gift for all the bookworms in your life, or to add to your own Santa list.”

Fellow editor Claire Savage, said that although the anthology was conceived before the COVID-19 pandemic, the project had proved timely in supporting local writers. “The arts sector has, like many, been badly affected by the pandemic so it’s great to be able to offer some support to writers – and to our chosen charities – at this difficult time,” she said.

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