Little Faith by Nickolas Butler is this Saturday’s Irish Times Eason offer

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

Little Faith by Nickolas Butler is this Saturday’s Irish Times Eason offer. When you buy the newspaper at any branch this weekend, you can also buy this acclaimed American novel of faith and family for €4.99, a saving of €7.

Isabel Allende talks to Catherine Conroy about her new novel, A Long Petal of the Sea; Marita Conlon-McKenna is interviewed by Sara Keating about The Hungry Road, her first Famine novel for adults; and Manchán Magan tucks in to The Wild Food Plants of Ireland by Tom Curtis and Paul Whelan.

Our reviews feature Stephen Philips on The Age of Entitlement: America Since the Sixties by Christopher Caldwell; Why We’re Polarized by Ezra Klein; and The New Class War: Saving Democracy from the Metropolitan Elite by Michael Lind; Joe Woods on The Hidden History of Burma by Thant Myint U and A Savage Dreamland: Journeys in Burma by David Eimer; Niamh Donnelly on American Dirt by Jeanine Cummins; Mic Moroney on Don’t be Evil: The Case Against Big Tech by Rana Faroohar; Tara McAvoy on Consider This: Moments in My Writing Life after Which Everything Was Different by Chuck Palahniuk; John Self on Threshold by Rob Doyle; Alan Murrin on This Mournable Body by Tsitsi Dangarembga; Sarah Gilmartin on Pine by Francine Toon; Claire Hennessy on the best new YA fiction; and Lucy Sweeney Byrne on Endgame by Samuel Beckett.

KPMG has been announced as the new title sponsor of the Children’s Books Ireland Awards for the next three years with the prize money now doubled on prior years. It includes a €6,000 prize for the Children’s Book of the Year and a €2,000 prize for each of the other five categories. The awards, now in their 30th year, also include a new accolade for ‘Reading Hero’ to encourage involvement from young readers across Ireland.

The winner of the 2019 TS Eliot Prize is Roger Robinson for his collection A Portable Paradise, published by Peepal Tree Press. Judges John Burnside, Sarah Howe and Nick Makoha unanimously chose the winner from a shortlist which comprised five men, four women and one trans non binary; one American, one Russian-American and one Canadian, as well as poets of Trinidadian, Cypriot and Sri Lankan extraction. Burnside said: “This ambitious and wide-ranging shortlist speaks to all that poetry can be. The winner, Roger Robinson’s A Portable Paradise, finds in the bitterness of everyday experience continuing evidence of ‘sweet, sweet life’.”

This spring children in Dublin are encouraged to read a story about a small robot on a big adventure. Boot by Shane Hegarty, illustrated by Ben Mantle, has been chosen for the 2020 Citywide Reading Campaign for Children. The aim of the initiative is to promote reading for pleasure among children.

The campaign runs from January to March and there will be author visits to many Dublin City Council branch libraries as well as city-centre based events in bookshops, the National Library of Ireland and Dublin City Gallery – Hugh Lane.

Mairead Owens, Dublin City Librarian, said: “The Citywide Reading campaign has a simple but important aim - to get children reading for pleasure. This is the ninth year of the campaign, and we hope to see lots of children borrowing a copy of Boot from their local library over the next few months.”

Hegarty said: “I am thrilled and honoured that Boot has been chosen as the 2020 Citywide Read. Growing up a Dubliner, my local libraries fed my imagination from a very early age, sending me on adventures in space and time every time I walked through their doors. As a writer I see the magic readers still find in libraries. I’m really looking forward to inventing exotic robots, telling tall tales and sharing the adventure with today’s young Dubliners.”

Belfast author Lucy Caldwell has been announced as one of the judges for the 15th BBC National Short Story Award, along with Jonathan Freedland, Katie Thistleton, Laura Bates, Muhammad Khan and Irenosen Okojie.

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