Naoise Dolan and Caoilinn Hughes on Dylan Thomas Prize longlist

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

Naoise Dolan and Caoilinn Hughes have been longlisted for one of the world’s largest literary awards for young writers: the Swansea University Dylan Thomas Prize. It is awarded for the best published literary work in the English language, written by an author aged 39 or under.

The list comprises nine novels, two poetry collections and one short story collection: Alligator and Other Stories by Dima Alzayat; Antiemetic for Homesickness by Romalyn Ante; If I Had Your Face by Frances Cha; Kingdomtide by Rye Curtis; Exciting Times by Naoise Dolan; The Death of Vivek Oji by Akwaeke Emezi; Rendang by Will Harris; The Wild Laughter by Caoilinn Hughes; Who They Was by Gabriel Krauze; Pew by Catherine Lacey; Luster by Raven Leilani; and My Dark Vanessa by Kate Elizabeth Russell.

The judges are Irish poet poet Stephen Sexton, Namita Gokhale, Syima Aslam, Joshua Ferris and Francesca Rhydderch. The shortlist announcement will take place on March 25th, with the winner of the £20,000 prize revealed on May 13th, the eve of International Dylan Thomas Day.



Four Irish authors have been longlisted for the Rathbones Folio Prize – Sara Baume’s memoir Handiwork and three debuts: Elaine Feeney’s As You Were, Doireann Ní Ghríofa’s A Ghost In the Throat and Patrick Freyne’s OK, Let’s Do Your Stupid Idea.

The £30,000 prize rewards the best work of literature of the year, regardless of form. This year’s judges are Irish author and editor Sinéad Gleeson, TS Eliot Prize-winning poet Roger Robinson, and novelist and short story writer Jon McGregor.

Also longlisted are Indelicacy by Amina Cain; How Much of These Hills Is Gold by C Pam Zhang; Poor by Caleb Femi; In the Dream House by Carmen Maria Machado; Just Us by Claudia Rankine; Booker Prize winner Shuggie Bain by Douglas Stuart; The Actual by Inua Ellams; English Pastoral by James Rebanks; The Appointment by Katharina Volckmer; The Pink Line: Journeys Across the World of Queer Frontiers by Mark Gevisser; Entangled Life by Merlin Sheldrake; Costa Novel Award winner The Mermaid of Black Conch by Monique Roffey; The Geez by Nii Ayikwei Parkes; My Darling from the Lions by Rachel Long; Strangers by Rebecca Tamás; and RENDANG by Will Harris.

The shortlist will be announced on February 10th and the winner on March 24th.


In Saturday’s Irish Times, Kerri ní Dochartaigh discusses her debut book, Thin Places, with Freya McClements and Gemma Tipton talks to the Pulitzer Prize-winning authors of a new Francis Bacon biography, Mark Stevens and Annalyn Swan. Reviews include Orla Tinsley on All the Young Men: How One Woman Risked It All To Care For The Dying by Ruth Coker Burks; Barry Pierce on George Saunders’s A Swim in a Pond in the Rain; Derek Scally on The French Art of Not Trying Too Hard by Olivier Pourriol and The Germans and Europe by Peter Millar; Enda Delaney on Exiles by Dónall Mac Amhlaigh, translated by Mícheal Ó Aodha; Helen Cullen on Gratitude by Delphine de Vigan, tr. George Miller; Michael O’Loughlin on Yeats Now: Echoing Into Life by Joseph M Hassett; Sarah Gilmartin on Luster by Raven Leilani; and Claire Hennessy on the best new YA writing.


Fourth Estate is to publish a new novel, The Pages, by Hugo Hamilton in July. It will be published by Alfred A Knopf in the US. Film rights have already been bought by Neil Jordan and it comes with high praise from fellow writers Tessa Hadley, Colum McCann, John Banville and Sebastian Barry

Narrated in the voice of Joseph Roth’s masterpiece Rebellion, Hamilton’s formally inventive novel tells the life story of that book, initially rescued from the Nazi book-burning in Berlin in May 1933. It recounts the life of its Austrian-Jewish author, a writer on the run, and his intriguing wife Friederike who fell victim to mental illness. The Pages carries profound echoes from the past into the present day and is an inspiring story of the survival of literature over a hundred years.

Nicholas Pearson, Fourth Estate editorial director, said: “The Pages is a revelation, Hugo Hamilton’s finest novel, one that completely upends what we might expect when we open a book. With its unusual narrator, laced as the novel is with Joseph Roth’s masterpiece Rebellion, it expands the possibilities of story-telling and its ability to form connections across time and geography. It is profound but it is also very playful, immersive and full of suspense to the last page.”


The National Library of Ireland has announced the donation of the archive of the #WakingTheFeminists movement to the national collection. #WakingTheFeminists was a successful grassroots campaign for equality for women in Irish theatre that ran from 2015-2016.

The archive is the third born digital archive selected by the National Library for its digital pilots project. The others are the records of Marian Keyes for her novel, The Mystery of Mercy Close, and the archive of the Yes Equality campaign. Through this project, the library is exploring how such contemporary digital materials are acquired, catalogued and made available to the public.

Director Dr Sandra Collins said: “This archive is a comprehensive record of a campaign which shone light on under representation of women in the theatre industry; and continues today to bring about change in women’s employment in the industry, on the stage, in production and direction.

“The #WakingTheFeminists archive is the latest archive to be received by the NLI under its ‘digital pilots’ project. These ‘digital pilots’ reflect the National Library’s role as Ireland’s memory keeper. Much of our national story is now being created digitally, so the Library is piloting ways to work with and make digital records available to researchers. Once this work is done, the archives can act as important sources for a key moments in Irish life.

“Historically, women have been under-represented in national collections; these digital pilot projects are an example of proactive collecting of the archives of under-represented voices and communities.”


Have you ever thought about writing for children but don’t know where to start? This webinar may be for you - Start Your Story: A Beginner’s Guide to Writing and Illustrating for Children – part of the #ProperBook series of practical events and workshops for new and emerging children’s writers, a beginner’s guide to writing and illustrating for children, presented by West Cork Literary Festival in association with Children’s Books Ireland and Sarah Webb, on Saturday, January 30th.


The book world is mourning the loss of Éibhleann Ní Ghríofa, who co-founded Scéal Eile Books and theatre company Scéal Eile Productions in Ennis, Co Clare with her husband Pat Hynes. Éibhleann, who was diagnosed with terminal cancer last summer at the age of just 36, died on January 10th. Pat described her as “all kinds of wonderful” as both a wife and mother to their young daughter Eilbhe.

She is also survived by her parents Máire Ní Ghabhláin and Gerald Griffey and her sisters Doireann, the award-winning poet and author, and Fíodhna, a publicist with Penguin Ireland. May she rest in peace.


The Butcher Boy author Patrick McCabe is hoping to crowfund his new novel, Poguemahone, which he describes as “a wild, 600-page ballad, a free verse monologue narrated by Dan Fogarty, an Irishman living in England, who is looking after his sister Una, now 70 and suffering from dementia in a care home in Margate.

“From Dan’s anarchic account, we gradually piece together the story of the Fogarty family. How the parents are exiled from a small Irish village of Currabawn and end up living the hard immigrant life in England. How Dots, their mother, becomes a call girl in 1950s Soho, working in the Piccadilly bar run by their legendary Auntie Nano, another exile from Currabawn. How a young and overweight Una, finds herself living in hippie squat in Kilburn in the early 1970s, and becomes infatuated with a two-timing Scottish poet and stoner called Troy McClory, much given to vatic poetry recitals and channelling prog rock vibes. How the squat appears to be haunted by vindictive ghosts, who eat away at the sanity of all who live there. And, finally, how all that survives now of those sex-and-drug-soaked times are Una’s unspooling memories, as she sits outside in the Margate sunshine, and Dan himself, whose role in the story becomes stranger and more sinister.”

To find out how you can support its publication, visit the Unbound website.


Finnish Journey, an essay by Adrian Duncan, is now available to listen for free at Read by Irish actor Barry Ward, the story charts the artists’ journey to Finland to research and make the film The Soil Became Scandinavian, the current exhibition at VISUAL Carlow.

The Soil Became Scandinavian is a film/sculptural installation by Duncan and Feargal Ward. It traces the steps of Irish forester Dermot Mangan, who was sent to rural Finland in 1946 to find trees in sufficient size and number to be used as Rural-Electricity-Scheme poles in Ireland. The Rural Electrification Scheme impacted the social, economic, and industrial development of the country, and transformed both urban and rural life beyond recognition.

Duncan’s debut novel Love Notes from a German Building Site was published by The Lilliput Press and Head of Zeus in 2019. It won the 2019 John McGahern Book Prize. In 2020 he was shortlisted for the Dalkey Literary Awards Emerging Writer. His second novel A Sabbatical in Leipzig was published by The Lilliput Press in 2020. His collection of short stories Midfield Dynamo is out this spring.


Applications are open for Poetry Ireland Introductions 2021, which aims to encourage excellence in the craft of poetry, while raising the profile of talented, emerging poets.

The poets selected will participate in a workshop focused on poetic form and craft, as well as a masterclass on the art of reading and performing poetry in public. A third workshop will focus on preparing a first collection.

Poet Séan Hewitt will select this year's participants and will also lead the form and craft workshop. Others will be led byJessica Traynor and Annemarie Ní Churreáin. Interested poets should submit their work by February 7th. Details here.


Poetry Ireland with the Global Brain Health Institute (Trinity College Dublin) and Neuroscience Ireland is inviting older people to write a line of poetry for a Poemathon with Older People.

The contributions will be combined to form a longer poem that captures the thoughts and imaginings of older people right now in society. John Sheahan, one of Ireland’s best known musicians and member of The Dubliners, has penned the opening line of the poem: “Intrepid intruder, stalker of unwashed hands”.

He will also be contributing the final line of the poem, which will be curated and edited by poet and editor Seamus Cashman.

Sheahan said: “The Poemathon with Older People is helping to give a voice to an older generation - a wonderful way to bring us together creatively from all parts of the island of Ireland in a collaborative poem. I look forward to seeing how each contribution steers the poem, meandering like a river, towards its final destination when the finished poem is launched in March.”

Submissions can be made through a form on Poetry Ireland's website until 5pm on February 12th at this link.


Jane Ohlmeyer, Erasmus Smith’s Professor of Modern History at Trinity College Dublin, will this week become only the 11th woman since 1896 to deliver the James Ford Lectures, considered the most prestigious history lecture series in the UK. “ The series Ireland, Empire, and the Early Modern World starts on Friday, January 22nd, at 5pm.

Over six weeks Prof Ohlmeyer will explore how the Irish were both victims and agents of empire; Ireland's role in imperialism in American and in India; what Irish indentured servitude in the 17th-century Caribbean really meant; the Irish as soldiers, clergymen, and traders; and how empire shaped Irish lives. Due to the pandemic, for the first time in their history, the lectures will be delivered exclusively online and available to a worldwide audience at thislink.

Ohlmeyer said: “I am honoured to be delivering the Ford Lectures with Oxford University in 2021 and to receive the invite from their Faculty of History where so many esteemed historians have gone before me. What excites me most is to be able to take the audience with me on a journey through Ireland and empire, an area which has taken up my life’s work as a historian.

“For many like me who grew up in Northern Ireland during the Troubles, Irish history had a very tangible impact on our lives but Ireland’s imperial past has too often been forgotten or deliberately ignored. In an era of Brexit, ‘Black Lives Matter’ and ‘Rhodes must fall’, it is more important than ever that we understand its complicated legacy and how it has shaped our present.”


The Centre Culturel Irlandais is hosting an online initiative, Addressing the Nations, a series of filmed addresses by Irish artists on the state of the world / Ireland / our minds in these difficult and often unpredictable times.

The addresses began last night and continue this evening, next Wednesday 27th and Thursday 28th, at 8pm Irish time. Each evening's broadcast will feature 10 artists and last 30 minutes in total. For more details including how to register for the event, click here.


Tolka is a new biannual journal dedicated to creative nonfiction, funded by the Arts Council, and founded by Catherine Hearn, Seán Hayes and Liam Harrison. They were inspired by the extraordinary range of recent Irish nonfiction – writers such as Sinéad Gleeson, Emma Dabiri and Mark O'Connell – and wanted to create a platform dedicated solely to the publication and elevation of this mode of writing. They opened their call for submissions yesterday. For more details, visit the website.


Each year, Holocaust Memorial Day has a theme. In 2020, to commemorate the 75th anniversary of the liberation of Nazi concentration camps, it was “Standing together” in 2021 it is “Be the light in the darkness”.

Csilla Toldy won the Northern Ireland Executive Office’s Holocaust Memorial Public Artwork Commission to commemorate the 75th anniversary.

She created a six-minute long video poem on the theme “Standing together”. At the same time, she undertook to make a short documentary film for educational purpose.

The film poem “Here I Stand” is based on a story of a survivor of Auschwitz, Ivor Perl, who was only 11 years old when he was deported with his family, and his mother told him to join the other queue where his older brother was standing, therefore, she saved his life. The poem is voiced by the mother (Sinead Lunny) and boy – as an old man looking back (Jason Benson).

The music was arranged by Michael McGlynn and performed by Anúna. Toldy’s film making journey took her to Holocaust museums in France and Hungary (she is Hungarian by birth), from where 400,000 Jewish people were deported in 1944 .

Unfortunately, due to the pandemic, the planned launch did not take place in the QFT, but the film poem will be launched on Holocaust Memorial Day, January 27th, online on the TEO Facebook page and other social media outlets.