Sunday 21 April 2019

An evening with Edna and a look at what the censor saw

Poet, novelist and playwright Edna O'Brien at home in Chelsea, London. Photo: Eamonn McCabe/Getty
Poet, novelist and playwright Edna O'Brien at home in Chelsea, London. Photo: Eamonn McCabe/Getty

Madeleine Keane

The wonder that is Edna O'Brien and her seminal trilogy The Country Girls will be celebrated next month as part of the excellent Dublin One City One Book initiative. Among a dazzling array of events taking place is an evening with Edna at the Mansion House (April 24) where she'll talk about her life and work with Colum McCann. There's also an exhibition - Evil Literature - based on the banned books in the collections of Dublin City Libraries. This will be launched on April 3 at Pearse Street Library after which I will chair a panel on the history of book censorship in Ireland with UCD's Professor Margaret Kelleher, Tom Quinlan from the National Archives and historian Donal Fallon. Both events are free, booking essential on eventbrite.ie

Busy times for this literary ed: I was, as they say, made up to be invited to participate at Listowel Writers' Week which will take place over the June Bank Holiday weekend. This popular festival, which turns 50 next year, opens on Wednesday, May 29 with the announcement of The Kerry Group Novel of the Year. The five short-listed titles in contention for the generous €15,000 purse are A Ladder to the Sky by John Boyne, Jess Kidd's The Hoarder, The Cruelty Men by Emer Martin, Travelling in a Strange Land by David Park and Sally Rooney's Normal People.

Great news for Cork author Catherine Ryan Howard who has just signed a massive six-book, six-figure deal with US publisher Blackstone: the crime writer who self-published her first book, remarked it was "an offer I just couldn't refuse".

Staying with this genre, watch out for The Chain. Due out in July, it was the most feverishly anticipated book of last year's Frankfurt Fair. Having devoured it in one sitting, I can see why. Darkly riveting, it's by Belfast-born Adrian McKinty, who has won multiple awards for his work; this novel asks just how far you'll go to protect your child.

Chilling, compulsive reading. You heard it here first.

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