Compiled by CAROLINE WALSH
Two Irish authors make awards shortlist
Yiyun Li, who won the inaugural Frank O’Connor International Short Story Award, has once again made the shortlist of this €35,000 prize for her second collection. A native of Beijing, Li has long lived in the US where she teaches writing at the University of California. Her collection Gold Boy, Emerald Girlis on a 2011 shortlist dominated by women which features two major Irish writers.
The other contenders are Light Liftingby Canadian Alexander MacLeod, son of novelist and short story writer Alistair MacLeod; Saints and Sinnersby Edna O’Brien; Death Is Not An Optionby Suzanne Rivecca; The Empty Familyby Colm Tóibín; and Marry or Burnby Valerie Trueblood. Established in 2005, it is the first time two Irish writers have been shortlisted. The prize, awarded by the Munster Literature Centre and funded by Cork County Council, is for original short story collections, published in English. Previous winners include Haruki Murakami and Jhumpa Lahiri. The winner will be announced at the Cork International Short Story Festival on September 18th. frankoconnor-shortstory-award.net
Mao history wins £20,000 non-fiction prize
Historian Frank Dikötter has won the £20,000 Samuel Johnson Prize for non-fiction for Mao’s Great Famine,described by chair of the judging panel Ben Macintyre as essential reading for anyone seeking to understand the history of the 20th century. “With access to hitherto hidden archives, Frank Dikötter has created a harrowing, superbly written indictment of Mao’s disastrous revolutionary experiment that led to the unecessary deaths of 45 million Chinese people.” It was an epic record of human folly and cast Chinese history “in a radical new light”.
New courses at Irish Writers’ Centre
The Irish Writers’ Centre in Dublin has various new writing courses coming up. From August 1st-5th, poet Leanne O’Sullivan, winner of last year’s Rooney Prize for Irish literature will be teaching a week-long intensive poetry course. O’Sullivan will lead the morning sessions and in the afternoons poets Paula Meehan, Gerard Smyth, Pat Boran and Joseph Woods are among those who will drop in to give practical advice based on their own experiences.
Ed O’Loughlin’s weekend course, August 6th-7th, aims to tackle what are billed as the three biggest hurdles in novel-writing – conceiving, starting and finishing a first draft. O’Loughlin’s first novel, Not Untrue and Not Unkind, was longlisted for the Man Booker in 2009. His second, Toploader, was published in April. For this course students can submit up to 5,000 words of a work in progress, preferably a novel, plus an outline of an extended prose work.
Getting to the Heart of Your Characters is novelist and playwright Mia Gallagher’s course, from August 8th-12th, with appearances from writers including Billy Roche and Denis Kehoe. Participants are urged to bring along any particularly difficult or inaccessible fictional characters they are working on. Gallagher’s debut novel HellFirecame out in 2006. She’s now completed her second novel and is working on a collaborative sound installation with Depaul Ireland for Electric Picnic in September. writerscentre.ie