Closure of ‘Books Ireland’
Sir, – Official Ireland often trumpets its pride in the achievements of Irish writers. Politicians and State dignitaries are quick to associate themselves with the success of our poets, novelists and playwrights. Yet, unlike some of other European countries, such as France, as a society we Irish still do not properly support creative writing that has literary value, as distinct from popular commercial fiction.
On Thursday I received, as a contributor, notice from the editor-proprietor of the magazine Books Ireland, Jeremy Addis, that the December issue of that journal will be the final issue. In his editorial for No 353, Mr Addis states that the magazine will close because of falling advertising revenue and because the arts councils have withdrawn their support, “leaving us with expenses nearly twice the size of our income”.
For almost 40 years Books Ireland has provided a valuable service to writers and writing in Ireland, as well as to the book trade, by maintaining a high standard of literary criticism and reviewing of books that had literary merit. There is a scarcity of serious criticism of literature in this country, apart from a few academic magazines such as the Irish University Review, and the books’ pages of your newspaper, The Irish Times. The only other outlet for considered reviews of literature are a handful of “little magazines”, some of which are struggling to survive in this current atmosphere of austerity and recession.
Surely the remit of the Arts Council should include the support of magazines such as Books Ireland, whose subsidy or grant was relatively small in the first instance? Can the council not see its way to reversing its decision to end support for Books Ireland? Or is there a business person out there who cares for literature and who would be prepared to take up the reins at the magazine and invest in it? – Yours, etc,