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Writer moves mountains to attend festival

Of all the literary festivals that take place annually in Irish towns and cities, I've a special fondness for three of them -- the Listowel Writers' Week, Limerick's Kate O'Brien weekend and Dun Laoghaire's Mountains to Sea event.

That's possibly because I've participated in all three, but award-winning English novelist David Mitchell is paying his own homage to the Dun Laoghaire festival by opting to appear there rather than at the Canadian world premiere of Cloud Atlas, which has been adapted from his most famous book and stars Tom Hanks, Halle Berry and Hugh Grant.

Instead, he'll be in Dun Laoghaire's Pavilion theatre next Saturday evening (September 8), alongside Claire Kilroy, whose fall-of-the-Celtic-Tiger novel, The Devil I Know, I reviewed recently in these pages. Mitchell himself is working on a new novel, as yet untitled, which concerns a young girl growing up in an Irish family.

Cloud Atlas was shortlisted for the Man Booker prize, and two winners of this most publicised of awards will also be at the festival -- Howard Jacobson next Tuesday evening (on the same stage as Paul Murray) and John Banville next Saturday, when he'll be sharing the platform with Esther Freud, whose latest novel, Lucky Break, draws on the time she spent at drama school.

On Thursday, Joseph O'Connor will be introducing his new collection of stories, Where Have You Been?, several of them set in Dun Laoghaire, while among the other crowd-pleasing authors taking part are historian Diarmaid Ferriter, actress-novelist Pauline McLynn, and short-story writer and novelist Kevin Barry -- intriguingly accompanied by comedian Maeve Higgins.

The festival will also feature various workshops (on crime fiction, short stories and writing for children), while political concerns will dominate a discussion on democracy in the Middle East, chaired by RTÉ's Margaret Ward and featuring Irish journalist Mary Fitzgerald and Channel 4's Lindsey Hilsum, who has written an acclaimed book on the fall of Gaddafi.

For more details you can go the www.mountainstosea.ie or phone 01 2312929.

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