Louise Kennedy, Niamh Campbell, Adrian McKinty and Michelle Gallen shortlisted

A preview of Saturday’s books pages and a roundup of the latest literary news

Saturday’s Irish Times books pages feature reviews including Declan Kiberd on James & Nora: A Portrait of a Marriage by Edna O’Brien; Victor Duggan on The Deficit Myth by Stephanie Kelton; David Dickson On The Alliance of Pirates: Ireland and Atlantic Piracy in the Early Seventeenth Century by Connie Kelleher; Niamh Donnelly On Unfiltered by Sophie White; Joanne Hayden on The Vanishing Half by Brit Bennett; Sara Keating on Au Revoir, Tristesse by Viv Groskop; Sarah Gilmartin on This Happy by Niamh Campbell; and Declan Burke on the best new crime fiction.

Prize news
Louise Kennedy and Niamh Campbell have been shortlisted for the Sunday Times Audible Short Story Award. Kennedy, whose shortlisting last year last year set off a feeding frenzy amongst publishers for her debut short-story collection, is back for the second year running. Bloomsbury will publish her debut, The End of the World Is a Cul de Sac, next January.

Alongside Kennedy is another Irish author, Niamh Campbell, whose debut novel, This Happy, is published today. They are shortlisted alongside Zambian author Namwali Serpell, who won the 2015 Caine Prize for her story The Sack, and Alexia Tolas from the Bahamas, who won the 2019 Commonwealth Short Story Regional Award for the Caribbean. American authors Shawn Vestal, author of Daredevils, and Daniel O’Malley complete the line-up.

Adrian McKinty has been shortlisted for the Theakston Old Peculier Crime Novel of the Year 2020 for The Chain. Also in the running for the £3,000 prize to be announce don July 23rd are My Sister the Serial Killer by Oyinkan Braithwaite; Worst Case Scenario by Helen Fitzgerald; The Lost Man by Jane Harper; Joe Country by Mick Herron; and Smoke and Ashes by Abir Mukherjee.

Big Girl, Small Town by Michelle Gallen has been shortlisted for the Comedy Women in Print Prize 2020 for Published Comic Novels, whose judges include Marian Keyes and Pauline McLynn. Also shorltisted for the £3,000, to be announced at an award ceremony at the Groucho Club on September 14th, are Queenie by Candice Carty-Williams; The Blessed Girl by Angela Makholwa; The Flatshare by Beth O’Leary; Reasons to be Cheerful by Nina Stibbe; The Bookish Life of Nina Hill by Abbi Waxman; and Frankissstein by Jeanette Winterson.

The shortlist for the 2020 AKO Caine Prize for African Writing has been announced, featuring five stories by authors from Namibia, Nigeria, Rwanda and Tanzania.

Kenneth Olumuyiwa Tharp, chair of the judges, said: “We were energised by the enormous breadth and diversity of the stories we were presented with – all of which collectively did much to challenge the notion of the African and diaspora experience, and its portrayal in fiction, as being one homogeneous whole.

The shortlisted writers e are: Erica Sugo Anyadike (Tanzania); Chikodili Emelumadu (Nigeria & UK); Jowhor Ile (Nigeria); Rémy Ngamije; and Irenosen Okojie (Nigeria & UK). You can read the stories here.

Poetry Line
The Poetry Line, which took place during Poetry Day Ireland on April 30th, is returning to offer support and connection to cocooners during lockdown. The initiative from Poetry Ireland and members of Aosdána, in collaboration with ALONE, will take place on Thursday, June 18th.

Individuals cocooning can sign up to receive a phone call from a writer/artist who will read them two reassuring and uplifting poems. In order to sign up, please call Poetry Ireland’s dedicated Poetry Line at 01 2548856.

Bloomsday Festival
The Bloomsday Festival, the annual literary celebration of James Joyce and his famous novel Ulysses, will be hugely different this year due to the pandemic. All events will be on line and participants this year are from Ireland, France, Greece, Brazil, the US and (virtually) all over the world. It runs from June 11th to 16th.

Highlights include Joyce on Film, a programme of short films from the IFI Irish Film Archive. The IFI presents a selection of short films preserved in the IFI Irish Film Archive. Joyce, himself a regular and passionate cinema goer, managed the Volta, Ireland’s first dedicated cinema in 1909. My Little Ireland (Ciclopatas Theater Group, Brazil) a play based on the eighth chapter of Finnegans Wake and the exchange of letters between James Joyce and Nora Barnacle by Dirce Waltrick do Amarante. Sirens - performed by Compagnie Gyntiana. This Paris-based company during the period of covid19 recorded “The Sirens”. Every actor, musician, singer, director recorded him-/herself at home. JOYCED! takes us on a whirlwind odyssey through Joycean Dublin in 1904, and the real-life events that inspired Ulysses. From passion to gunfire, Martello towers to drunken brawls. Performed by Katie O’Kelly and written by Donal O’Kelly. This year’s ‘Music & Song’ event includes Colum McCann, Donal Ryan, Tana French, Mary Costello, Christine Dwyer Hickey, Camille O’Sullivan, Aiden Gillen, Kate Stanley Brennan & Emmet Kirwan. Full details on www.bloomsdayfestival.ie

Wexford Literary Festival
Wexford Literary Festival takes place via Zoom from July 3rd-5th. It includes the Colm Tóibín Short Story Award, Anthony Cronin poetry award, Billy Roche short play award and Cursed Murphy Spoken Word award.

This year’s programme in partnership with Wexford Arts Centre features award winning Colum McCann in conversation with Peter Murphy about his new novel Apeirogon, as well as Bassam Aramin ( Palestine) and Rami Elhanan (Israel), the fathers united in grief over the loss of their young daughters.

Highlights include Carmel Harrington in conversation with Sheila Forsey; crime writing with Andrea Mara and Jane Ryan; Louis de Paor leads a poetry workshop and Eamonn Wall joins from the US a panel of Wexford poets for readings. The Cáca Milis Cabaret Wexlit Cabaret hosted by Helena Mulkerns includes an eclectic line up featuring Wexford literarti Colm Tóibín and Eoin Colfer, music by The Man Whom and Tango with Hernán Catvin. For more information visit wexfordliteraryfestival.com or wexfordartscentre.ie.

Penguin Ireland/Sandycove
Penguin Random House Ireland has relaunched the Penguin Ireland imprint as Sandycove, inspired by Joyce's Martello tower in Ulysses. Penguin Ireland published its first books in 2003. The first book to appear under the Sandycove imprint will be Kathleen MacMahon's novel Nothing but Blue Sky (July 30th), followed by the latest Ross O'Carroll-Kelly title, Braywatch; Patrick Freyne's essay collection OK, Let's Do Your Stupid Idea, and Mary McAleese's memoir Here's the Story. Publisher Michael McLoughlin said: "We are working more closely than ever with our Penguin Random House colleagues in the UK and overseas to ensure we avail of every opportunity for our books and authors, and our new imprint name reflects this ambitious approach to publishing. Sandycove will offer a safe harbour for great writers and their work."

Isolation set to music
A Zoom/facebook choral performance from Berlin of Gerard Smyth's poem Isolation, set to music by composer Philip Lawton will take place on Wednesday, June 17th, at 7.30pm Irish time. Isolation featured on the front page of The Irish Times early in the lockdown, and is a hopeful look out of the unusual and difficult circumstances into which the entire world has been thrown. Further information here.

The Red Line Book Festival
The Red Line Book Festival is on the hunt for its next Writer-in-Residence. The chosen theme this year is 'Connection Reset' and the closing date is June 29th. The festival has also announced its call-out to aspiring poets for its annual Poetry Competition. Information on both opportunities available at redlinebookfestival.ie

Flann O'Brien Hiking Trail
A business-arts initiative in Strabane has won a £5,000 grant to develop a programme of literary initiatives to celebrate the life of local writer Brian O'Nolan, etter known as Flann O'Brien. The project aims to develop and market a Flann O'Brien Hiking Trail.

Filming the Irish Short Story
IFL, which runs the annual Irish Film Festival London, the largest international festival of Irish film, is running a six-week course on great Irish films made from short stories. Filming the Irish Short Story invites you to join a weekly two-hour evening class online to discuss the relationship between film and the short story form, examining classic films like John Huston's The Dead, from the James Joyce short story, and the much loved Ballroom of Romance, adapted from William Trevor's short story. The class is run by Prof Lance Pettitt, IFL Chair and a leading authority on Irish film.

Lance said: “Irish writers have always had a particular talent for the short story and there is something about the short story form that makes it a rich source material for producing great films. We hope this will be an interesting and inspiring course for anyone who loves writing and loves cinema.”

Book quiz winner
Congratulations to Don Menzies, a chartered engineer, barrister and arbitrator from Churchtown, Dublin, who has won the Irish Times prize book quiz. He will soon be receiving a €200 book hamper courtesy of Kennys.ie