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Page-turner: The world of books with Madeleine Keane


Sunday Independent literary editor Madeleine Keane. Photo: Tony Gavin

Sunday Independent literary editor Madeleine Keane. Photo: Tony Gavin

Sunday Independent literary editor Madeleine Keane. Photo: Tony Gavin

As the great Sinatra sang ‘if I can make it there, I’ll make it anywhere’. He was warbling about New York of course, that fabulous but notoriously difficult metropolis from where the happy news reaches us that an Irish woman is triumphing on Broadway.

 The Corn Exchange’s production of Eimear McBride’s award-winning novel A Girl is a Half-Formed Thing has entranced critics and audiences alike with the legendary Ben Brantley of the New York Times rhapsodising about the production which “leaves an indelible mark on the memory”. McBride’s hotly anticipated new novel The Lesser Bohemians will be published in the autumn by Faber. You go girl!


Another feisty female novelist continues to make waves with her fights for writers’ rights. Joanne Harris, author of the delicious  Chocolat, caused a rumpus in literary circles when she pulled out of an unnamed British festival earlier this year, citing high demands and low pay as unacceptable. La Harris flies into Dublin on May 19 to give the keynote address to the industry at WordCon, a conference organised by Words Ireland, a new grouping of seven Irish literature organisations, including the Irish Writers Centre, Stinging Fly, Children’s Books Ireland and Ireland Literature Exchange. For their first conference, which takes place at the National Library, they’ve also invited authors Louise O’Neill, Nuala Ní Chonchúir and Pat Boran to share their experiences of festivals at home and abroad. Leading festival directors will also discuss the subject in a bid to improve the payment and treatment of writers and illustrators at literary events.


The previous evening sees a giant literary event taking place in cities across Europe, including our own fair capital. Book lovers can get a flavour of contemporary European writing in Words on the Street as works from a dozen countries are read (in English) by well known cultural and media figures in Temple Bar. David Nicholls who wrote the memorable, bittersweet love story One Day will join Phelim Drew, Ger Ryan, Owen Roe, Fiachna Ó Braonáin and Pat Kenny et alia for European Literature Night on May 18. Readings will be held every half hour in striking venues including The Button Factory, City Hall’s Council Chamber, The IFI and the Liquor Rooms. 


I’ll miss all of the above as I’ll be in Florida but travelling with me is Anne Tyler’s new novel Vinegar Girl. This is a retelling of The Taming of the Shrew, part of  the Hogarth Shakespeare initiative, commemorating 400 years since the Bard’s death and joins a glittering lineup of reimaginings: Margaret Atwood’s Tempest, Tracy Chevalier’s Othello, Winter’s Tale by Jeanette Winterson, Jo Nesbo’s Macbeth, and Hamlet retold by Gillian Flynn.

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