Michael Harding is Bealtaine Festival Book Club author 2020

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

The Bealtaine Festival Book Club author 2020, chosen by the City and County Library Association, is Irish Times columnist Michael Harding, whose books include Staring at Lakes and Chest Pain. He will be speaking about his career at a series of events in May in partnership with the Irish Writers Centre and the International Literature Festival Dublin.

In Weekend Review, Bob Geldof talks to Patrick Freyne about his new book, Tales of Boomtown Glory. In Ticket, Rebecca Solnit talks to Peter Murphy about her latest work, Recollections of My Non-Existence, which Seán Hewitt also reviews. Amid the constant bombardment and compulsive busyness of modern life, discovering a sense of quietness has become more vital than ever. Anne O’Neill discusses some books that might help. In Home & Design, Jacqui Corcoran talks to writer Josie Silver whose last novel One Day in December changed her family’s life, allowing them to buy their dream house.

Our reviews are Fintan O’Toole on Shakespeare in a Divided America by James Shapiro; John Boyne on Topics of Conversation by Miranda Popkey; Abi Andrews on Our House is on Fire: Scenes from a Family and a Planet in Crisis by Greta and Svante Thunberg, Malena and Beata Ernman; Eoin McNamee on The Mirror and the Light by Hilary Mantel; Julia Kelly on Where Are We Now? by Glenn Patterson; Peter Murphy on Conclusions by John Boorman; Sarah Gilmartin on The Inland Sea by Madeline Watts; and Martina Evans on new poetry collections by Medbh McGuckian, Moyra Donaldson and Raymond Antrobus.

Last Ones Left Alive by Sarah Davis-Goff is the new Irish Times Eason book promotion. Buy the newspaper in any branch tomorrow and you can buy the Tramp Press co-founder’s acclaimed debut novel for just €4.99, a saving of €7. If you still need convincing that this is a bargain worth traversing the country on a life-risking quest for, read our review by Sarah Gilmartin and this essay about it by the author.

The Theakston Old Peculier Crime Writing Festival, which is taking place in Harrogate, Yorkshire from July 23rd to 26th, will feature Martina Cole, Mark Billingham, Lisa Gardner, Kathy Reichs, Elly Griffiths, Mick Herron and Michael Connelly.

The Guardian has launched a major new video series, called Europeans, which includes Fake Tan, an impressive original screenplay by Irish author Lisa McInerney performed by Evanna Lynch. The Guardian commissioned writers from Germany, France, Ireland, Spain, Sweden, UK and Poland to create a fictional character who talks about their country's relationship to the EU through a personal story arc.

While we are spoiling you, check out this great new short story by Anne Enright, Night Swim, in the latest edition of the New Yorker. As an extra treat, you can listen to the author read her own story.

Penguin has launched a new search for under-represented writers with WriteNow 2020. Writers can apply at www.penguin.co.uk/writenow until April 26th, then 150 writers will be invited to one of four free workshops in London (6 June), Belfast (13 June) Glasgow (27 June), and Cardiff (4 July), to learn more about how to get their book published and receive one-on-one feedback from an editor. Ten writers will join the WriteNow programme; working directly with a Penguin editor for a year to develop their manuscript.

Geraldine Quigley, a WriteNow alumnus based in Derry, and author of Music, Love, Drugs, War (FigTree, 2019), said: “To be selected for the final 10 was extraordinary. WriteNow is unique in that it gives the mentees the invaluable experience of working with some of publishing’s most respected and creative editors. If you’re lucky enough to get selected, you really couldn’t ask for a better start to a writing career. It’s hard work, but one of the best things I’ve ever done.”

Hilary Mantel will be in conversation in the RDS Concert Hall, on Sunday, May 17th, at 4pm, as part of ILFDublin 2020.

Dundalk children’s author Emer Conlon’s day job is as marketing manager in a Scania dealership. She has brought both worlds together in the latest book of her Vroom-Town series, The Adventure of Vabis the Scania Truck and the Sleeping Volcano, which luanches this week to mark World Book Day. Scania in Sweden has agreed to make her book a Scania Official Licensed Product, a first for Irish publishng.