Loose Leaves


Cork stories – rich tradition, richest prize

The autumn literary season is already appearing on the horizon with the arrival of programmes for festivals that range from the Frank O’Connor International Short Story Festival in Cork to the Mountains to Sea DLR Book Festival in south Co Dublin.

As well as Frank O’Connor, Cork is of course closely associated with those other masters of the short story, Seán Ó Faoláin and William Trevor. This year’s O’Connor festival, which will run from September 16th to 19th, has a line-up of both Irish and international names. It will open with the launch of a new Claire Keegan publication called Foster, a story which won the 2009 Davy Byrnes Irish Writing Award and which the author has since expanded.

As well as reading her own work and talking about the influence of her late husband, Raymond Carver, Tess Gallagher will also conduct a poetry workshop. Others taking part in readings include Aidan Matthews, Louis de Bernières, Belle Boggs,Robin Black,TC Boyle, Ita Daly, David Constantine, Ben Greenman and Karen Russell.

On Friday, September 17th, a Flash Fiction reading will take place on Cork’s Grand Parade as part of the National Day of Action for the Arts.

There will also be an opportunity for novice writers to take part in a short-story workshop with Mary Morrissy .

David Marcus, the much-missed mentor to generations of Irish writers, will be remembered at an inaugural memorial reading in his name in Cork Synagogue when his story, Who’s Ever Heard of an Irish Jew?, will be read by actor Jack Healy.

Presentation of the Seán Ó Faoláin and Frank O’Connor prizes is a significant element of the festival, with the €35,000 O’Connor award being the world’s richest prize for a short story. This year’s judges selected five American writers on the shortlist – TC Boyle and Ron Rash as well as less familiar names Robin Black, Belle Boggs and Laura van den Berg, all three of whom feature with debut collections – plus British author David Constantine.

Hats off to Cork City Council for continuing to fund this prestigious literary award and to the Munster Literature Centre for keeping interest in the short story to the fore in a city that was birthplace to two of its greatest practitioners.

Full details from the centre at info@munsterlit.ie.

Booker winners head for the Mountains

Earlier in September, four former Booker prize winners will be among those gathering for the Mountains to Sea festival in Dún Laoghaire. John Banville, Roddy Doyle, Anne Enright and DBC Pierre will be joined by local boy Paul Murray, author of Skippy Dies, which is a contender for this year’s Booker.

Former south Co Dublin resident Samuel Beckett is the subject of actor Alan Stanford’s opening address to the festival on September 7th.

This year’s hugely expanded programme makes space for crime fiction, sport, politics, children’s literature and writers in schools, and includes readings, literary lunches and public interviews.

Banville is among the participants in an evening of appreciation for the great late

JG Farrell, author of Troubles, which takes place in the Pavilion Theatre on September 11th.

In the same venue the following day, former taoiseach Garret FitzGerald will be interviewed by Olivia O’Leary at noon. Later, at 3.45pm, this newspaper’s literary correspondent, Eileen Battersby, will talk to novelist Jennifer Johnston.

Other writers at this fast-growing festival include Hugo Hamilton, Claire Kilroy, Patrick McCabe, Joseph O’Connor, Marita Conlon-McKenna, Mia Gallagher, Gabriel Rosenstock, Janice Galloway, Eoin McNamee, and Andrew O’Hagan.

A special edition of RTÉ Radio’s Sunday Miscellanywill be broadcast from the festival. For a full programme of events and booking details, see mountainstosea.ie.