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Local hero Farrell to be honoured at book festival

A Dublin book festival will honour an Irish writer who won the Lost Booker prize earlier this year -- 30 years after he drowned tragically.

JG Farrell, who won the prize in May for his 1970 novel Troubles, was tipped to become as famous as other Irish literary heavyweights James Joyce and Samuel Beckett before he died in 1979.

The Lost Booker was a one-off award to honour books published in 1970 that were not eligible for the Booker Prize due to a change in the competition's rules.

Dun Laoghaire's book festival Mountains to Sea DLR is honouring the late writer with a panel discussion, since Farrell lived part of his youth on Saval Park Road, Dalkey, Co Dublin.

The events curator Burt Wright told the Herald: "The house is still there and there's been a tremendous resurgence of interest in him.

"A lot of people in the area remember him from that time. He was proud to be living in Dublin, and he was very charismatic, good looking, women loved him."


He added: "He was tipped for huge success but he died before he had huge success. Had he lived he would have been another Beckett."

Troubles was published to great acclaim, and it was to be the first part of Farrell's Empire trilogy of novels dealing with the changing world at the end of the British Empire.

He won the Booker Prize itself in 1973 for the second novel in the trilogy, The Siege of Krishnapur.

His biographer Lavinia Greacen said, "Had he won in 1970 and won again in 1973 he would had have been the first writer to win the Booker twice."

"We all have a list of Irish writers with Yeats and Joyce, and he's not on it, but he should be," she added.

"He's a local boy and really deserves the festival honour."

Troubles won by a clear majority, taking 38pc of the online votes, more than double the amount cast for any other book on the shortlist.

The festival, which runs from September 7 to 12, will include Anne Enright, John Banville and DBC Pierre, all Man Booker prize winners.

Burt said: "It's expanded this year and it has nearly double the amount of events. Success breeds success."

"Dun Laoghaire Rathdown is so fortunate because so many writers live in the area, and also with the literary heritage," he added.

"James Joyce lived in Blackrock, Samuel Beckett lived in Foxrock, Joseph O'Connor's Ghostlight is about Synge's affair with an actress and it takes place in Dalkey and this area."

Tickets for the festival go on sale on August 4.