Irish Times summer fiction; Irish authors on comedy prize longlist; John Hewitt festival

Luke O’Neill to judge science prize; a preview of Saturday’s pages

The Irish Times’s annual summer fiction series kicks off in print and online next Thursday, July 29th, with Nostalgie by Wendy Erskine, whose acclaimed debut short story collection was published by Stinging Fly and Picador. Her second collection, Dance Move, is out next year.

Next up on August 5th is Would it Kill You to Bury my Father? by Lisa McInerney, author of The Glorious Heresies, The Blood Miracles and The Rules of Revelation, and winner of the Women’s Prize for Fiction, the Desmond Elliott Prize and the RSL Encore Award.

On Thursday, August 12th, we publish Portobello by Mitzie Murphy, who is studying for an MA in creative writing at University Limerick. On August 19th, we publish When They Were Up, They Were Up by Jan Carson, the Belfast-based author of two short story collections, two novels and two micro-fiction collections. Her novel, The Fire Starters, won the EU Prize for Literature for Ireland in 2019. Her next novel, The Raptures, will be published by Doubleday in spring 2022.

Last but by no means least, on August 26th, is An Múinteoir (The Schoolteacher) by Paula McGrath, author of two novels, Generation and A History of Running Away (both John Murray).


Saturday’s reviews in The Irish Times are Sinéad O’Shea on Séamas O’Reilly’s Did Ye Hear Mammy Died?; Mia Levitin on Lucy Ellmann’s Things Are Against Us; Michael Cronin on the best new fiction in translation; Rachel Andrews on Inflamed by Rupa Marya and Raj Patel; Breandán Mac Suibhne on Agents of Influence by Aaron Edwards and Political Purgatory by Brian Rowan; John Banville on Rick Gekoski’s Guarded by Dragons: Encounters with Rare Books and Rare People; Tony Clayton-Lea on the best new music books; and Sarah Gilmartin on Objects of Desire by Clare Sestanovich.

In the Magazine, Séamas O’Reilly writes about his widowed father taking his 11 kids around Ireland on summer holidays. Roisin Ingle interviews Bella Mackie, author of How To Kill Your Family. In Weekend Review, there are key extracts from David Goodall’s posthumous memoir of the Anglo-Irish Agreement negotiations in which he played a key part. Bexy Cameron spent her childhood in the Children of God cult, expecting to die as a teenager. She talks to Rosita Boland about her memoir.


Prof Luke O’Neill, the Irish immunologist, presenter and writer, is to chair the five-strong judging panel for this year’s Royal Society Science Book Prize, which celebrates the very best in popular science writing from around the world. He is joined by TV presenter, Ortis Deley; mathematician Dr Anastasia Kisil; author Christy Lefteri, and journalist and film maker, Clive Myrie.

O’Neill said: “I’m delighted to be chairing. Science communication has always been very important, to entertain, inform and inspire. This has never been more relevant than this year, with scientists engaging with the public across all media on a daily basis because of Covid-19. A tremendously interesting number of books have been nominated this year, across a huge range of topics, making our job very enjoyable but also challenging. Science communication is clearly in very good hands.”

A shortlist of six titles, from a record number of more than 240 submissions published between July 2020 and September 2021, will be announced in September. The winner will be revealed in November. The winner will receive a cheque for £25,000, with £2,500 awarded to each of the five shortlisted authors.


Naoise Dolan’s Exciting Times and Caoilinn Hughes’s The Wild Laughter have been longlisted for this year’s Comedy Women in Print Award.

Joanne Harris, chair of the judges for the CWIP Published Novel Prize, said: “What a marvellously diverse longlist! Humour is the thing that connects and reflects all of humanity; and I’m really looking forward to immersing myself in the wit and wisdom of these amazing women, and bringing their voices to the attention of a wider public.”

Also longlisted are: The Shelf by Helly Acton; Ghosts by Dolly Alderton; Destination Wedding by Diksha Basu; Pretending by Holly Bourne; Insatiable by Daisy Buchanan; V for Victory by Lissa Evans; The Best Things by Mel Giedroy ; Domestic Bliss and Other Disasters by Jane Ions; The Disaster Tourist by Yun Ko-eun, translated by Lizzie Buehler; Asking for a Friend by Andi Osho; Dial A for Aunties by Jesse Sutanto; and Murder by Milk Bottle by Lynne Truss.

The winner of the £3,000 prize will be announced at the Groucho Club on November 8th.


With the Stormont Executive set to allow theatres in Northern Ireland to open next Monday, July 26th, the Market Place in Armagh will surely be first out of the blocks as hosts of the John Hewitt International Summer School and Literary Festival, July 26th-30th.

Among those featured in the lunchtime in conversation events will be Billy O’Callaghan, Nuala O’Connor and Joseph O’Connor who will appear online. Danielle McLaughlin and Fiona Scarlett will take part in person in a Dazzling Debuts event while Lucy Caldwell and Louise Kennedy will be Celebrating the Short Story with Jan Carson. Malachi O’Doherty, Sharon Dempsey and Jan Carson will celebrate Brian Moore at 100, while Stuart Neville hosts a Crime Fiction Special with Northern writers Brian McGilloway, Claire Allan and Gerard Brennan. Among the poets reading each morning in person will be John Fitzgerald, Caitriona Ní Cléirchín, Annemarie Ní Churráin, Stephen Sexton, Jane Robinson and Rachael Hegarty, while Audrey Molloy, Lisa Kelly and Kathleen McCracken will be online.