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Irish Times Books
1 minutes | Apr 1, 2020
The Little Red Balloon
A reading of 'The Little Red Balloon', the winning entry in the 15-18 category of the Children's Short Story competition, by 17-year-old Emma Broderick, of Muckross Park College, Dublin.
34 minutes | Feb 8, 2020
Darran Anderson, author of Inventory
Books Editor Martin Doyle talks to Darran Anderson about his memoir of growing up in Troubles-torn Derry, Inventory: A River, A City, A Family. They discuss the book's themes of family, history and memory, its inspiration found in the ideas of Georges Perec, and how it relates to his previous work, Imaginary Cities, an exploration of urban landscapes that never were, or that existed only on the page or on the screen.
41 minutes | Nov 16, 2019
The best crime fiction of 2019
Welcome to The Irish Times Books Podcast. In this latest episode, Martin Doyle talk to The Irish Times’s two regular crime fiction reviewers, Declan Burke and Declan Hughes, both acclaimed crime writers themselves, about their favourite crime fiction of 2019. So get your pen and paper ready to take note of some excellent suggestions for your crime reading pleasure.
35 minutes | Oct 2, 2019
Remembering Maeve Binchy - with Henrietta McKervey and Gordon Snell
On the eve of this weekend’s Echoes festival in Dalkey, celebrating Maeve Binchy and Irish writing, its programmer, author Henrietta McKervey, and Maeve’s widower, Gordon Snell, join me to talk about the thinking behind the festival and the many ways in which Maeve’s memory is being kept alive. The festival always has Maeve at its heart but each year it has a different theme. This year’s theme is Celebrating Community in Contemporary Writing in Ireland. Last year’s theme was “Maeve the quiet feminist”, a description she loved, says Gordon, as it was the first time anyone ever called her quiet. McKervey discusses the highlights of this weekend’s festival as well as her experience of being the first winner of the Maeve Binchy UCD travel scholarship, including a hair-raising vist to Fastnet lighthouse. Snell reveals how he loves to re-read his late wife’s work, which only confirms his admiration for her briliance as a storyteller: “her dialogue is so good it could be put straight on the stage”. He reminisces about their cameo roles in film adaptations of Maeve’s work, usually in a restaurant or at a bar drinking cocktails served by Stephen Rea, but also in an episode of Fair City. He also discusses how he manages to write without his former partner – Maeve once described them working together in their upstairs studio at their typewriters as like two pianists performing a duet. As our interview takes place inThe Irish Times office, talk inevitably turns to Maeve’s distinguished career as a journalist here. Snell reveals that his favourite article by her is I Was A Winter Sport, about a calamitous ski trip, while McKervey expresses admiration for Bincy’s versatility as a writer, shifting in shade from reporting sensitively on the Zeebrugge ferry disaster to writing wittily about the British royal family. Echoes runs from October 4th till 6th in Dalkey. For ddetails, visit the website
34 minutes | Sep 14, 2019
Danielle McLaughlin - A Partial List of the Saved
It has been some year for Danielle McLaughlin. On Thursday, she won the 2019 Sunday Times Audible Short Story Award, whose £30,000 (€33,500) prize money makes it the world’s richest for a short story. Last March, she was awarded the $165,000 (€150,000) Windham-Campbell Prize for fiction. The former solicitor from Co Cork, who only took up writing seriously 10 years ago at the age of 40 when illness forced her to stop practicing law, spoke to me for The Irish Times Books podcast from London the morning after her latest success. We talked about her winning story, A Partial List of the Saved, her debut collection, Dinosaurs on Other Planets, and the remarkable strength of the Irish short story tradition. Two of the other five writers on the shortlist were also Irish – Kevin Barry, a previous winner and like her a protégé of Declan Meade, publisher of the Stinging Fly, and Louise Kennedy – while Caoilinn Hughes, Wendy Erskine and Gerard McKeague made it six out of 18 on the longlist. She also discusses her forthcoming debut novel, Retrospective, which will be published by John Murray in 2021. “It began back in 2012 in a writing workshop given by Nuala O’Connor at Waterford Writers Weekend. I can still remember the chalky feel of the prompt – a piece of broken crockery – in my hand. It’s set between Cork city and west Cork and the main character is a fortysomething woman whose past intrudes on her personal and professional life at the worst possible time in the guise of her dead friend’s son and his father.”
43 minutes | Aug 16, 2019
Anthony Farrell, founder of The Lilliput Press
Antony Farrell, of Lilliput Press, which this year celebrates its 35th anniversary, discusses his career in publishing, the history of the press and the “genius” authors with whom he has worked over the years, including Hubert Butler – “he was a secular saint to me” – Tim Robinson, John Moriarty and Desmond Hogan. He talks about his background – his father was “a Castle Catholic”, his mother an Ulster Protestant and he was educated at Harrow public school, where he boxed (“I was more athlete than aesthete”) and was called “a bog rat”, inspiring him to embrace his roots, studying Irish history at Trinity College Dublin. We also touch on Brexit and Boris Johnson, including James Shapiro’s witty advice to the British prime minister on how to approach his book on Shakespeare. Farrell also discusses the pros and cons of being published by an Irish publisher rather than a British one, the importance of alliances and building long-term relationships with authors, the different challenges of publishing fiction and nonfiction, and the people he has worked with over the years, many of whom have gone on to establish high-profile careers in publishing, the arts and as authors. Describing it as “a kind of finishing school”, he speaks of the 300 or so interns he has employed over the years, including Aideen Howard, Brendan Barrington, Sarah Davis-Goff and Lisa Coen, Tom Morris, Elske Rahill and Nicole Flattery. He offers a sneak preview of major titles coming up: including – a podcast exclusive! – Stephen Rea’s memoir, A Life in Parts; A Letter marked Personal, a posthumous novel by JP Donleavy; and The Last Footman by Gillies Macbain, an Anglo-Irish memoir for which he has high hopes.
25 minutes | Jul 6, 2019
Mick Herron, author of the Slough House series
Welcome to the latest Irish Times Books Podcast, an interview with Mick Herron, the author of the Slough House series of spy novels. Herron is originally from a working-class background in Newcastle but went on to study English at Oxford, where he still lives. Described as the John le Carré of his generation, he has created the bestselling Slough House series which features a rogue’s gallery of spies who have screwed up or been stitched up and are as a consequence desk-bound – “less MI5, more 9 to 5”. Presiding over them is the magnificently monstrous Jackson Lamb, a brutally insensitive, belching, boozing, Falstaffian figure who makes their lives a misery but ultimately has their backs. The latest book in the series, Slow Country, is one of the best so far, tightly plotted, wittily written and as a bonus a pitiless portrait of Brexit Britain. Herron shares his views on the current political drama gripping the UK as well as his influences and writing methods.
63 minutes | Jun 8, 2019
Joseph O'Connor - Shadowplay
Author Joseph O'Connor talks to Martin Doyle about his new novel Shadowplay, a complicated love affair featuring Dracula creator Bram Stoker, the first Irish writer he fell for. They also talk about his career from Cowboys & Indians to Star of the Sea, and his next project - a novel based on Hugh O’Flaherty, the Kerry priest who saved more than 6,000 lives from the Nazis in Rome.
30 minutes | May 25, 2019
Laureate na nÓg Sarah Crossan
Welcome to The Irish Times Books Podcast, which this week features my interview with Sarah Crossan, Ireland’s Laureate na nÓg. Crossan is one of Ireland’s most successful Young Adult writers, having won the Carnegie Medal in 2016 for her verse novel, One, and been shortlisted twice, for The Weight of Water and Apple & Rain. We discuss her latest young adult verse novel Toffee, about a teenager who runs away from an abusive home and befriends an elderly woman. We also talk about her career, her work as children’s laureate at the halfway stage of her tenure, and her identity as an Irish person growing up and living in Britain. The Irish Times Books podcast is sponsored by Green & Blacks.
29 minutes | May 11, 2019
Writing for Children - with Shane Hegarty, Author of Boot & The Darkmouth Series
Laura Slattery interviews children's author Shane Hegarty about what it means to write for children, with their surprisingly strong taste for peril and horror, and how his own kids's brutal honesty helps him to create his books. Shane's books for children include the Darkmouth series, which has been praised by critics for its fast-paced action, wit and sophistication. His new book Boot is out now.
45 minutes | Apr 13, 2019
Sinéad Gleeson and Sarah Davis-Goff
April’s Irish Times Books Podcast features interviews with Sinéad Gleeson about her acclaimed collection of personal essays, Constellations, and Sarah Davis-Goff, co-founder of Tramp Press, about her own first novel, Last Ones Left Alive, a dystopian novel set in the west of Ireland in the near future.
31 minutes | Mar 16, 2019
Kevin Breathnach - Tunnel Vision
Martin Doyle talks to young author Kevin Breathnach about his acclaimed debut collection of essays, Tunnel Vision, which mixes art history with remarkably candid accounts of his own life. Plus: In the five decades since their inception, the Hennessy New Irish Writing Awards have helped to launch the careers of many of Ireland’s best known authors, including Sebastian Barry, Joe O’Connor, Colum McCann and Mike McCormack. Ciaran Carty, curator of the awards, on that prestigious history. The Books Podcast is sponsored by Green & Blacks.
37 minutes | Nov 30, 2018
Lisa Harding - Harvesting
Laura Slattery talks to Lisa Harding, author of Harvesting.
40 minutes | Nov 5, 2018
Helen Cullen - The Lost Letters of William Woolf
Books Editor Martin Doyle talks to Helen Cullen about her novel The Lost Letters of William Woolf. Recorded at the Waterford Writers Festival.
46 minutes | Jul 1, 2018
Grace, the third novel by Irish author Paul Lynch, was the winner of this year’s Kerry Group Irish Novel of the Year. In this month’s Irish Times Book Club podcast, recorded at the Irish Writers Centre in Parnell Square in Dublin, Lynch tells us how he came to write the story of a young girl as she crosses the famine-stricken Ireland of the 1840s. Lynch, who is also the author of Red Sky in Morning and The Black Snow, talks about how he researched the darkest consequences of famine, the influence of Cormac McCarthy on his work and how he built the hallucinatory quality of Grace’s desperate journey into his writing style, which has been praised for being lush and lyrical without prettifying the scars of the era. The writer, who grew up in Co Donegal, also discusses what he has carried forward from his years as a film critic for the Sunday Tribune to the process of writing a novel, why he doesn’t identify easily with the label “historical fiction” and what he is working on next.
59 minutes | May 31, 2018
Kit de Waal - The Trick to Time
The Trick to Time by Kit de Waal is May’s Irish Times Book Club choice. Longlisted for the Women’s Prize for Fiction even before it was published in late March, it is a tragic Birmingham Irish love story set against the backdrop of the IRA bombings that devastated the city in 1974. Kit spoke to Martin Doyle at the International Literature Festival Dublin last week.
50 minutes | Apr 27, 2018
Sinéad Gleeson - The Long Gaze Back
This month's guest is Sinéad Gleeson, one of Ireland's leading arts journalists. She is a former presenter of the book show on RTE radio and the editor of three anthologies of Irish short stories. Next year Picador will publish a collection of Sinéad's own essays, provisionally titled 'Constellations'. She talked to Martin Doyle at the Irish Writers Centre to discuss The Long Gaze Back, an anthology of Irish Women Writers which Sinead edited. The Long Gaze Back is April's Irish Times Book Club choice.
43 minutes | Apr 4, 2018
June Caldwell - Room Little Darker
This episode features a conversation between Irish Times Books Editor Martin Doyle and June Caldwell, author of Room Little Darker, at the Mountains to Sea festival in Dun Laoghaire last month. As ever, the podcast recording was preceded by a series of articles about Room Little Darker on irishtimes.com, written by fellow authors and critics including Maighread Medbh, Alan McMonagle, Joanna Walsh, Michael Harding, Justine-Delaney Wilson, Elske Rahill and Frankie Gaffney. And those interested can still find those pieces on irishtimes.com. Originally this event was due to take place at the Ennis Book Club festival, but that event was postponed due to the terrible weather. So thanks to Mountains to Sea for facilitating the event at short notice.
47 minutes | Nov 30, 2017
Sally Rooney - Conversations With Friends
Conversations With Friends, Sally Rooney’s critically acclaimed first novel, has picked up deserved word-of-mouth momentum since it was published earlier this year. In this month’s Irish Times Book Club podcast, recorded live at the Irish Writers Centre in Dublin, Rooney explains how it came into being. For those who have yet to succumb to the pleasure of this talented young author’s debut, Conversations With Friends tells the lucid, painful, addictive, story of 21-year-old Frances, a Dublin student who embarks on a torturous affair with 32-year-old actor Nick, who is married to writer/photographer Melissa, who Frances’s closest friend and ex-girlfriend Bobbi has a bit of a crush on. Published by Faber after a seven-way bidding auction, Conversations with Friends was praised in The Irish Times for its fearless writing, while it was described in the New Yorker as “a new kind of adultery novel”. The novel - which tracks Frances’s relationship with Bobbi, Nick, Melissa, her parents, her body and her place in the world - unfolds in a wealth of smart exchanges, as Frances plays conversational table tennis and uses analytical language to deflect her emotions and hide the fact that she’s not anywhere near as relentlessly self-composed as she likes to make out. In this podcast, Rooney explores how she developed the distinctive tone of Conversations With Friends through dialogue, why people sometimes think she is Frances and Frances is her, and how she writes in concentrated, intense periods. She also gives us some hints about her recently submitted and much-anticipated second novel.
35 minutes | Nov 1, 2017
Adrian McKinty - Rain Dogs
Rain Dogs by Adrian McKinty is October’s Irish Times Book Club pick. The Edgar Award-winning thriller is the fifth in the Carrickfergus-born author’s Sean Duffy series about a Catholic RUC man set in Troubles-era Northern Ireland. McKinty spoke with Irish Times Books Editor Martin Doyle in Belfast’s Europa Hotel on Saturday, October 28th as part of the inaugural NOIRELAND International Crime Fiction Festival.
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