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Sunday 25 February 2018

David lands big fish Salman for seaside festival

Rushdie will make his first Irish public appearance at book event in Dalkey next summer, writes Emily Hourican

GUEST: 'Satanic Verses' writer Salman Rushdie
GUEST: 'Satanic Verses' writer Salman Rushdie

Emily Hourican

So how do you get a world-famous author, with the glitter of a pop star and the kind of prestige that most politicians can only dream of, to speak at a local seaside festival?

Well, you just ask him, it seems. So says David McWilliams, who has confirmed the appearance of Salman Rushdie at next summer's Dalkey Book Festival. "If you don't ask, you don't get," is McWilliams's formula, adding, "no one ever got offended by being invited".

The author of Midnight's Children – a book that rightly continues to appear on best novel lists more than 30 years after it was first published – and the Satanic Verses, and who lived under a terrifying fatwa issued by Ayatollah Khomeini, will follow in the footsteps of Carl Bernstein, investigative journalist and joint-author of All The President's Men, who spoke at the festival last year, and Seamus Heaney, who appeared the year before.

Given that he has never appeared in public in Ireland before – although he has visited, including the time he stayed in Bono's guesthouse in the singer's garden in Killiney – the forthcoming appearance can be regarded as a major coup.

"The website almost crashed with the number of people looking for tickets since the announcement," said McWilliams. "He will be appearing in an intimate setting, in keeping with the Dalkey Book festival. To see a giant of literature in a small venue is a unique opportunity."

A number of tickets to the Rushdie event next summer will be made available to those attending The Winter Tales festival in Dalkey this Saturday, although this will probably be via a lottery.

Not that any major incentive is required to get excited about this event. It was dreamed up by McWilliams and wife Sian Smyth just two months ago on the irresistible premise that winter is for curling up somewhere warm and losing yourself in a book.

"We mused over the fact that most people buy their books at Christmas time, they buy for themselves and as gifts for others, so surely a Christmas festival is a good idea?"

Seven events, across one day all costing €7, the one-day festival features authors Paul Howard, Pat McCabe, Eamon Dunphy, Colm O'Regan, Frank McGuinness, a discussion called 'New Party New Politics?' with Pat Leahy, Lucinda Creighton, Dearbhail McDonald and Stephen Donnelly, as well as recommendations of best books to buy from Declan Hughes, David McWilliams, Anne Enright, Elske Rahill, Conor Brady and Alison Jameson.

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Sunday Independent

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