Paul McVeigh’s Polari prize win a triumph over very strong shortlist
Bookmarks: an Armagh arts event, a Shackleton festival and murder comes to Malahide
Paul McVeigh: won this year’s Polari First Book Prize for The Good Son as part of London Literature Festival last weekend
Belfast author Paul McVeigh was awarded the Polari First Book Prize 2016 for The Good Son at London’s Southbank Centre as part of London Literature Festival last weekend. Now in its sixth year, the prize celebrates the best debut books that explore the LGBT experience through poetry, prose, fiction or non-fiction. McVeigh’s funny and frightening story of a young boy navigating the Troubles of Northern Ireland in the 1980s triumphed over an extremely strong shortlist of first books, including Sugar and Snails by Anne Goodwin; Different for Girls by Jacquie Lawrence; Blood Relatives by Stevan Alcock; Physical by Andrew McMillan and Trans by Juliet Jacques, which was chosen as runner-up. Published by Salt, The Good Son was July’s Irish Times Book Club choice.
Chair of the judges Paul Burston said: “The judges were particularly drawn to the fresh and unique narrative voice of McVeigh’s Mickey Donnelly – we really felt as if we knew him. The author’s handling of the young narrator is expertly done and strikes the perfect balance between comedy and pathos. Paul is an incredibly accomplished storyteller.”
Armagh writing school’s literary arts festival
The inaugural John O’Connor Writing School and literary arts festival is held in Armagh city from November 3rd to 6th. It is named after the local author, whose only novel, Come Day – Go Day, hailed as a masterpiece by Benedict Kiely, was first published in Dublin in 1948, republished by Blackstaff in 1984 and due to be reissued next month by Liberties Press. Festival highlights include Muldoon’s Picnic. Rarely staged outside New York, this unique event is described by the poet as “a mixum-gatherum of words and music” with performances and contributions from Anne Enright, Michael Longley, Horslips, Stuart Neville, Peter McVeigh, Maria McManus, Deirdre Cartmill and Martina Devlin; poetry, words and rock’n’roll with the Guardian’s Sean O’Hagan, Muldoon again and members of Horslips; poetry across the generations with father and son Chris and Jacob Agee; interviews with playwrights Marie Jones and Martin Lynch and a literary walking tour.
Celebrating Kildare’s famous explorer
The 16th Ernest Shackleton autumn festival, which runs from October 28th to 31st in Athy Heritage Centre-Museum in Co Kildare, has put together an impressive line-up of speakers and events to celebrate the locality’s most famous son. Among the speakers are Ed O’Loughlin, who not only grew up in Kildare but has also written one of this year’s most acclaimed Irish novels, Minds of Winter, which explores in its own way the terrain Shackleton set out to chart. He and Dr Russell Potter host a cultural evening, Weird and Tragic Shores – poetry and prose inspired by the polar regions. Potter’s Finding Franklin: The Untold Story of a 165-Year Search, published by McGill-Queens University Press, gets its Irish launch at the festival, which also marks the debuts of John Mac Kenna ’s retelling of Shackleton’s classic, South, and Explorers’ Sketchbooks: The Art of Discovery and Adventure by Huw Lewis-Jones and Kari Herbert.
Wicked advice at Malahide workshop
Murder comes to Malahide in the form of the Something Wicked Crime Writing Festival, which runs from October 28th to 30th. On October 28th, bestselling authors will discuss their dark art in the unlikely setting of Malahide Lawn Tennis Club. Panelists Alex Barclay, Sam Blake and Liz Nugent will be interrogated by Rebus-soundalike Bert Wright. Malahide Murder Morning in the Malahide Parish Centre (where else?) on October 29th sounds fun. It is a forensics and crime scene workshop where participants will witness the procedures and protocols following the discovery of a dead body. They will also learn how to write authentic crime fiction. The workshop will be led by forensic anthropologist René Gapert, Deputy State Pathologist Linda Mulligan and Garda Vanessa Stafford, with actor and screen writer Paddy C Courtney acting as host. Crime novelist Arlene Hunt will discuss how to incorporate the panelists’ information into a crime novel. Manor Books on Church Road hosts Killer Kids on October 30th. Bestselling author Dave Rudden will host a workshop teaching children the art of storytelling through the medium of crime fiction.
Why short stories are great
Young Hearts Run Free has been putting on arts events in unusual spaces, raising money for the Simon Community, since 2008. Siobhan Kane started a little biannual festival strand in 2014 – No Idle Day – and the second outing runs from October 21st to 23rd. The brilliant Manchester writer Lara Williams will read from her collection of short stories, Treats, joining Joanna Walsh who will be reading from Vertigo, and they will be discussing the beauty of the short story form with journalist Mick Heaney at Dublin’s Books Upstairs on Saturday, October 22nd.