Skip to main content

International Dublin Literary Award Winner Event – 22nd October 11am

 

Join RTE broadcaster and book enthusiast Rick O’Shea from the Gravity Bar at the Guinness Storehouse on Thursday 22nd October at 11am for the announcement of the 25th Winner of the International Dublin Literary Award.

The online Award ceremony takes places during this year’s International Literature Festival Dublin for the first time, as part of an exciting new partnership. 

Be sure to book your FREE ticket here.

BOOK HERE

Booking is required.

The International Dublin Literary Award, now in its twenty-fifth year, is the world’s most valuable annual prize for a single work of fiction published in English, with the winner receiving €100,000. It is open to novels written in any language and by authors of any nationality, provided the book has been published in English or English translation. Uniquely, books are nominated by libraries in major cities throughout the world. It is sponsored solely by Dublin City Council.

Click below for full details of the 10 shortlisted books

Seána Kerslake – Reading Tatty by Christine Dwyer Hickey

Seána Kerslake is one of Ireland’s most uniquely talented young actors and we’re delighted to call her a friend of the Dublin UNESCO City of Literature office. We had been really looking forward to hearing her read from Tatty at Liberty Hall this month, as part of Dublin One City One Book, and very much hope she can be with us when that event is re-staged later in 2020.

In the meantime, treat yourself to this wonderful rendering of the voice of Tatty in a special video Seána has made for fans of the book.

You won’t be disappointed!
Part 1 of 4, Don’t miss out, click to subscribe

City of Books Podcasts

 

Calling all bookworms. Dublin City Libraries is delighted to announce an exciting new initiative to mark the tenth anniversary of the Dublin UNESCO City of Literature designation.
 

City of Books is a podcast in which host, author and journalist Martina Devlin, talks books to all sorts of people who believe books matter – and that you can never have too many books.
 

It’s sponsored by Dublin UNESCO City of Literature in association with MOLI, the Museum of Literature Ireland.

Be sure to subscribe to City of Books now.

Episode 1 The Fine Art of Reading features Robert Ballagh and Mary Costello. Artist Robert Ballagh talks about why Samuel Beckett thought he kept him waiting for breakfast, how his postage stamp design infuriated Northern Irish political leader the Rev Ian Paisley, befriending Nobel scientist James Watson and getting on the wrong side of Britain’s Prince Philip. He also discusses his autobiography A Reluctant Memoir, published by Head of Zeus. Later in the episode, writer Mary Costello takes a tour of the iconic James Joyce Tower in Dublin where Joyce set the opening chapter of his masterpiece Ulysses. During her walkabout in the 200-year-old building, she explains why she is drawn back again and again to Joyce’s work and why her latest novel The River Capture is inspired by him.

Episode 2 Life Lessons with Marian Keyes. Marian Keyes international bestseller talks about everything from why she believes in supporting other women, to why bulimia is possibly the cruellest addiction. Marian also talks about her latest novel Grown Ups.

Episode 3 One City One Book plus Finance Minister’s Books at Bedtime. Martina Devlin chats with author of Tatty Christine Dwyer Hickey and Minister for Finance Paschal Donohoe.

Episode 4 – Ships at a Distance Have Everymans Wish on Board. Author and editor Sinéad Gleeson speaks about what makes Tatty by Christine Dwyer Hickey so powerful, as well as her experience when The Long Gaze Back was the 2018 One City One Book choice.

Episode 5 – If You’re A Child You Know Where The Power IsAuthor Carlo Gébler talks about The Country Girls Trilogy, written by his mother Edna O’Brien, which was the 2019 Dublin One City One Book choice. He also speaks about children feeling powerless in an adult world, and shares some life lessons from 30 years spent teaching in prisons.

Episode 6 – South Dublin Noir Meets White Knuckle Crime: Author and journalist Sinéad Crowley speaks about the Dublin One City One Book initiative, reveals some of her favourite choices over the years, and also talks about her Detective Claire Boyle crime series.

Episode 7 – The Child’s Eye – Marita Conlon-McKenna is the much-loved author of many books for children and adults. They include her children’s classic about Ireland’s Great Famine, Under The Hawthorn Tree. She talks here about the magic of storytelling, why famine stories continue to grip us and the powerful use of the child’s voice in Tatty – the 2020 Dublin One City One Book choice.

 

They are available on the usual platforms including Apple and Spotify.

 

 

 
 

Senior Times Podcast Series

A new series of the Senior Times podcast has been launched. It includes interviews by Mary Kennedy with Patricia Scanlan, and Mike Murphy chatting to John Banville. Mike also chats to Kathleen Watkins about Yeats’ poetry. Upcoming interviews will include Christine Dwyer Hickey, Rachel English, Liz Nugent, Mary McAleese and Cathy Kelly.

You can listen on whatever platform you normally listen to podcasts such as Spotify, Soundcloud and Apple Podcasts

Here’s a preview of what’s coming up over the next few months

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sNRcHV1oQV0&feature=youtu.be

Verzet: New Dutch Writing Chapbooks Launch – Tuesday 22 September Online 7pm

National Centre for Writing In partnership with Strangers Press and New Dutch Writing

Join them for the launch of VERZET, a collection of beautifully designed chapbooks published by Strangers Press, showcasing the translated work of eight of the most exciting young writers working in the Netherlands today. The chapbooks encompass an impressive array of award winners and nominees including Jamal Ouarichi, Karin Amatmoekrim, and Sanneke van Hassel, as well as newer voices all long overdue or dearly deserving of English language translations.

For this event, writer, editor and translator Daniel Hahn will be in conversation with VERZET contributing writers Karin Amatmoekrim and Thomas Heerma van Voss, and translators Alice Tetley-Paul and Jozef van der Voort.

‘VERZET is the fine, cutting edge of Dutch writing; a symphony of diverse voices singing lyrical and often startling melodies of truth, inner turmoil, hope and longing’ – Shannon Clinton-Copeland

This event will take place on YouTube. Please book in advance to receive a streaming link by email.

Strangers Press has previously published two highly successful collections of chapbooks – KESHIKI, new voices from Japan, and YEOYU, new voices from Korea.

The VERZET set can be pre-ordered from the Strangers Press website here.

Read: ‘VERZET: Speaking Through the Noise’ by Shannon Clinton-Copeland

Covers in development, subject to change

BOOK TICKETS

About the speakers

Karin Amatmoekrim is a Surinamese-Dutch writer and the author of six novels, as well as essays and short stories. Her work explores cosmopolitanism and notions of home and identity. The author, who has Indonesian, Chinese, African and Native American blood, sees her work as embodying universal, human themes. Her chapbook, Reconstruction, translated into English by Sarah Timmer-Harvey, ranges from the speculative to the radical in five short stories, offering a haunting take on our multicultural world.

Daniel Hahn is a writer, editor and translator, with some seventy books to his name. His translations (from Portuguese, Spanish and French) include fiction from Europe, Africa and the Americas, and non-fiction by writers ranging from Portuguese Nobel laureate José Saramago to Brazilian footballer Pelé.

Thomas Heerma van Voss has published four works of fiction, including the novel Stern in 2013, and the short story collection The Third Person in 2014.  His chapbook, Thank You For Being With Us, comprises two short stories feature compelling, well-wrought characters who draw the reader entertainingly into their simultaneously hilarious and heartbreaking lives. The stories are translated by Moshe Gilula.

Alice Tetley-Paul studied German and Dutch at the University of Sheffield, followed by an MA in Literary Translation at UEA. She is currently the translator in residence for New Dutch Writing. For the Verzet series she has translated the work of Bregje Hofstede, who was writer in residence at the National Centre for Writing in October 2019. Bergje is a moving and memorable autobiographical account of a young woman’s voyage of rediscovery into the mountains she visited so often as a child.

Jozef van der Voort is a translator working from Dutch, German and French into English. He has an MA in Translation Studies from the University of Sheffield and he runs the Emerging Translators Network. He has translated Something Has To Happen by Maartje Wortel, three short stories that are both alienating and logical, idiosyncratic and playful, written in enjoyably spare and minimalist prose.

Writer images, clockwise from top left: Thomas Heerma van Voss (c) Willemieke Kars, Karin Amatmoekrim (c) Bob Bronshoff, Josef van de Voort, Alice Tetley-Paul


 

 

You Will Remain – Cities of Literature Creative Response to Covid-19

Slemani City of Literature in Iraq have curated You Will Remain – the UNESCO Cities of Literature creative response to the Covid-19 pandemic. The anthology includes poems, prose and paintings from 23 Cities of Literature. Dublin is represented by Brian Kirk’s poem “Sleep” (from his collection After The Fall published by Salmon Poetry)  The initiative is part of a broader project called ‘Literature and Arts as Helpmate and Therapist.’ 

Download the anthology  You Will Remain

CELEBRATING IRELAND’S CULTURAL BRIDGE – City of Books New Episode

CELEBRATING IRELAND’S CULTURAL BRIDGE

Ireland’s writers are an asset to reputation-building abroad says the man who’s in pole position to know – Daniel Mulhall, our Ambassador to Washington, who talks to City of Books about how by a host of world class authors act as a cultural bridge.

From Joyce to Heaney, as well as a crop of well-regarded current writers such as Sally Rooney, he finds their work is a calling card. During an Indian posting, he discovered his hosts – the Gandhis – could recite Yeats’ poetry word for word.

Ambassador Mulhall has won a following for his daily tweets showcasing Irish or Irish-American poets. Wherever he goes in the US an interest in Irish culture is evident, he tells the City of Books podcast, hosted by novelist and journalist Martina Devlin.

Elsewhere in the episode, Professor Chris Morash of Trinity College Dublin gives a rundown of the 10 books shortlisted for the prestigious Dublin International Literary Award worth €100,000.

The selection is eclectic and includes books in translation, plus one Irish writer this year – Anna Burns for Milkman. Libraries worldwide nominate books popular with their readers, which means the prize allows lesser-known books to rise to the top, according to Professor Morash. He is non-voting chair of the judging panel, which made its choice from more than 150 books.

Other contenders are Silence of the Girls by UK writer Pat Barker, There There by Tommy Orange, a citizen of the Cheyenne and Arapaho nations, and Drive Your Plow Over The Bones of the Dead by Poland’s Olga Tokarczuk.

The winner will be announced on October 22 as part of the International Literature Festival Dublin (ILFD).

LISTEN HERE

Also available on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, or wherever you usually get your podcasts

CALL OUT FOR YOUNG PEOPLE FOR THE RAINBOW LIBRARY LGBTQ+ PROJECT

Are you aged 16-26 in Northern Ireland, or 18-26 in the Republic of Ireland, and identify as LGBTQ+? Do you enjoy writing stories or poetry, or want to be better at it? Are you into drawing, and want to learn illustration skills? Would you like to have your stories published?

POP UP are looking for LGBTQ+ young people in Ireland and Northern Ireland to take part in an amazing publishing project. Illustrator Jamie Beard and writer James Hudson will lead six online workshops, where you’ll develop your own writing and illustration. Jamie and James will then weave everyone’s work into a single story or collection of stories – which POP UP will publish as an e-book. The e-book will be sent to schools and libraries so that other young people can read stories that include LGBTQ+ experiences.

When does it happen?

The six workshops will take place over three weeks, between 14th and 30th September. Each week there will be one weekday workshop (4.30pm-7pm) and one weekend workshop. The e-book will be designed and published in October. The book will be launched at a celebration in November.

How do I get involved?
Be quick, because they’ll offer places for the first 20 people who apply. They need to know your name, age, the town and country where
you live. They’ll get back in touch as soon as we hear from you. You’ll need to have access to a computer, tablet or smartphone to join the
online workshops.

If you’re interested,

email lauren@pop-up.org.uk

Who are Pop Up?
They work with 100s of children’s authors, running exciting children’s literature and publishing projects with young people across the UK and internationally. They know that children’s books rarely include LGBTQ+ characters. So we want to put young LGBTQ+ voices at the heart of children’s stories – by developing our own literature. That’s why they’re running The Rainbow Library.

Dublin City Council announces The International DUBLIN Literary Award 2020 Shortlist

One Irish author, 3 novels in translation among the shortlist

Thursday 3rd September 2020: 10 novels have been shortlisted for the 2020 International DUBLIN Literary Award, sponsored by Dublin City Council. Celebrating 25 years, this award is the world’s most valuable annual prize for a single work of fiction published in English, worth €100,000 to the winner. If the book has been translated the author receives €75,000 and the translator receives €25,000.

The shortlist announced today includes Milkman by Irish author Anna Burns, and 3 novels in translation. The writers, 8 of whom are female, come from Canada, France, India, Iran, Ireland, Poland, the UK and the USA.

The winner of the International Dublin Literary Award 2020 will be announced by its Patron, Lord Mayor Hazel Chu on Thursday 22nd October, as part of International Literature Festival Dublin (ILFDublin).

The shortlisted titles are:

  • The Silence of the Girls by Pat Barker (British). Published by Hamish Hamilton Ltd.
  • Milkman by Anna Burns (Irish). Published by Faber & Faber and Graywolf Press.
  • Disoriental by Négar Djavadi  (Iranian-French). Translated from the French by Tina Kover. Published by Europa Editions.
  • Washington Black by Esi Edugyan (Canadian). Published by Serpents Tail Ltd., HarperCollins Canada and Alfred A. Knopf.
  • An American Marriage by Tayari Jones (American). Published by Algonquin Books.
  • History of Violence by Édouard Louis (French). Translated from the French by Lorin Stein. Published by Harvill Secker.
  • The Friend by Sigrid Nunez (American). Published by Virago Press Ltd.
  • There There by Tommy Orange (Native American). Published by Harvill Secker, Alfred A. Knopf and McClelland & Stewart Inc.
  • All the Lives We Never Lived by Anuradha Roy (Indian). Published by MacLehose Press and Atria Books.
  • Drive Your Plow Over the Bones of the Dead by Olga Tokarczuk (Polish). Translated by from the Polish by Antonia Lloyd-Jones. Published by Fitzcarraldo Editions.

Patron of the Award, Lord Mayor of Dublin Hazel Chu, commended the Award for its promotion of excellence in world literature and the opportunity it provides to promote Irish writing internationally;

‘Looking at this fantastic list of books makes me so excited about our Literary Award this year. It’s more important than ever that Dublin City Council does its best to support the Arts in such challenging times and the International Dublin Literary Award is a huge statement of encouragement for writers.

In October, we’ll find out which of these talented authors will receive €100,000 from the city but in the meantime I urge everyone to read as many of the ten as you can. Borrow them from your local library countrywide.  And the very best of luck to them all!’ – Lord Mayor of Dublin, Hazel Chu.

The novels on this year’s shortlist were nominated by public libraries in Canada, France, Germany, Greece, Ireland, Jamaica, New Zealand, Poland, the UK and the USA, and come from Canada, France, India, Iran, Ireland, Poland the UK and the USA. Memorable characters tell stories of identity and displacement, violence and war, hope and humanity, love and loss, family and relationships, incarceration and racism, justice and tradition set in both familiar and unfamiliar countries and cultures.

Borrow the Books

All the novels nominated for the Award are available for readers to borrow from Dublin’s public libraries and from public libraries around Ireland. Readers can also borrow most of the shortlisted titles on BorrowBox – eBooks and eAudiobooks for limited periods by way of digital loans. The longlist of 156 titles has been published in a free magazine, and all details are also on the newly revamped Award website at www.dublinliteraryaward.ie

Key Dates

The six member international judging panel, chaired by Prof. Chris Morash, will select one winner, which will be announced by the Patron of the Award, Lord Mayor of Dublin Hazel Chu on Thursday 22nd October during the International Literature Festival Dublin (ILFDublin) reimagined 2020 festival.

 For more information on the International Dublin Literary Award and the Shortlist go to www.dublinliteraryaward.ie

Christine Dwyer Hickey in Conversation at Dublin Book Festival

A Dublin One City One Book and Dublin Book Festival Event

Join us for a special evening with Christine Dwyer Hickey, author of this year’s Dublin One City One Book choice Tatty on Thursday 24th September at 7pm. Christine will be in conversation with literary critic Niall MacMonagle in the beautiful setting of Kevin Street Library, Dublin. She will discuss Tatty, her varied writing career, and in particular how music influences her writing.

Musical interludes will be contributed by pianist Leonora Carney, trumpeter Colm Byrne and piper Donnacha Dwyer.

 

Tatty was originally published in 2004 and earlier this year a special Dublin One City One Book edition, with a new introduction by Dermot Bolger, was published by New Island Books. Christine recently won the 2020 Dalkey Literary Award and the Walter Scott Prize for Historical Fiction for her most recent novel The Narrow Land.
This event will be available to watch online via www.dublinbookfestival.com and
www.rte.ie/culture

Please note that you will need to register in advance to watch the event.

http://eventbrite.ie/e/dublin-one-city-one-book-christine-dwyer-hickey-in-conversation-tickets-117999891853

New Episode – City of Books Podcast with Lemn Sissay

THE POETRY OF HOPE

He shoots from the hip and speaks from the heart – that’s poet and playwright Lemn Sissay.

In this candid interview for the City of Books podcast for Dublin UNESCO City of Literature, he speaks about mother and baby homes, the Black Lives Matter campaign and his experience in the British care system.  

“My name was changed, I was treated as property,” Lemn tells City of Books presenter Martina Devlin.

He was born in a mother and baby home in England, where an Irishwoman was having her child in the bed next to his Ethiopian mother.

He was fostered out for the first 12 years before being handed back and raised in a variety of care homes, as he describes in his powerful memoir, My Name Is Why. But he started writing poetry as a child to assert his sense of identity.

Lemn says society is self-righteous and judgmental.

“It’s really easy for us to blame the social workers and blame the nuns – it’s us. Those institutions wouldn’t be there if we hadn’t had the prejudices. They’re the ones doing the hard work.

“It’s us talking about single pregnant women as if they were evil. As if they were oestrogen terrorists. This prejudice is too easy.” He said it allows us to “patronise the past” and heap blame on others.

As for the children, many have been damaged by their experiences. “We’re more happy to complain about an egg being broken that a child being broken,” he says.

On Black Lives Matter, the poet and Chancellor of Manchester University calls it’s a reckoning: “chickens coming home to roost.”

Recently, Lemn was a Booker Prize judge and says of the 2020 longlist: “I’m pleased we have so many debuts, I’m pleased that there are so many women, I’m pleased there are so many different voices.”

My Name is Why by Lemn Sissay is published by Canongate.

:: City of Books is a monthly podcast brought to you by Dublin UNESCO City of Literature and Dublin City Libraries in association with MOLI, the Museum of Literature Ireland. It is presented and edited by Martina Devlin.

Photograph by Slater King

100th birth anniversary of the celebrated American writer Ray Bradbury

Introduction

Today, the 22nd of August, is the 100th birth anniversary of the celebrated American writer Ray Bradbury. His long career has seen a host of novels and collections, many of which are now indisputable classics: The Martian Chronicles (1950), The Illustrated Man (1951), The October Country (1955), Dandelion Wine (1957), Something Wicked This Way Comes (1962)—and that monumentally prescient work, Fahrenheit 451 (1953).

Bradbury’s work has been with me my entire life. I suspect my earliest encounter with his writing was through the television anthology series, The Ray Bradbury Theatre (1985-92); “The Banshee” was then, as now, one of my favourite episodes: Peter O’Toole starring as cocksure director, Charles Martin Smith as the precocious writer, terrified—like me, then as now—of what wailed in the grounds outside the big house. In middle school I read The Martian Chronicles, and my head cracked open with a sense of wonder for the Red Planet and beyond. I spent my adolescence scouring second-hand bookshops for as many collections as I could find; each of Bradbury’s stories were, to me, compact marvels, precise and alive with metaphor.

 

It wasn’t until university that I read Green Shadows, White Whale (1992), Bradbury’s semi-autobiographical reverie of Ireland. I admit, it might in part have played a role in my moving to Dublin a few years later. In fact, The Stories of Ray Bradbury (1980) was one of two books I brought with me when I moved. These marvelous stories still keep me company to this day.

 

Based in Rathmines these past twenty years, I now find myself editing The Green Book: Writings on Irish Gothic, Supernatural and Fantastic Literature. For Issue 2, I commissioned Steve Gronert Ellerhoff to write an article on Bradbury’s time in Ireland. Like me, Steve is a Midwesterner with a passion for Bradbury, delighting in exploring the author’s Dublin many connections. Clearly Bradbury’s love for Ireland never left him, and over the subsequent decades he penned a number of stories inspired by his time here. He later gathered together these stories and wove them into the novel Green Shadows, White Whale. For the day that’s in it, here is a reprint of Steve’s article exploring the composition of that book, a celebration of the life and work of Ray Bradbury, not Irish, but very much one of our own.

– Brian J. Showers, Swan River Press

 

The Long Reach of Green Shadows:

Ray Bradbury’s Memories of Ireland

Steve Gronert Ellerhoff

“What was I? I was a bag of potatoes that grew up in Ireland finally.” – Ray Bradbury

Ray Bradbury (1920-2012)—born one hundred years ago today—was a connoisseur of nostalgia, an artist who drew again and again from his own longed-for past. His Orphean gaze often looked over shoulder to his Illinois childhood, culminating in cycles of Midwestern stories written from an agreeable adulthood exile in Southern California. Dandelion Wine (1957), his third novel, brings together tales about Douglas Spalding of Green Town, both boy and community bearing autobiographical dimensions. Green Town stood in for his hometown of Waukegan, while Douglas was a fictionalised composite of his childhood self: his middle name was Douglas, while Spaulding had been his father’s and grandfather’s middle name. As Bradbury lived and experienced life, this alter ego appeared in short fiction, inspired so often by actual events. So it was that when Bradbury spent six months in Ireland adapting Herman Melville’s Moby-Dick (1851) for the silver screen, Doug was sure to follow.

Bradbury’s term in Ireland came along with the screenwriting job. His boss, film director John Huston (1906-1987), was then renting a Georgian country house in County Kildare called Courtown and wanted the writer working nearby. So it was that in early October 1953, Bradbury, his wife Maggie, their two daughters, and a nanny arrived in Dún Laoghaire from the UK by ferry. Huston put them up at the Royal Hibernian Hotel on Dawson Street in Dublin and Bradbury set to work, adapting Melville’s whaling epic for the man famous for directing The Maltese Falcon. Many nights were spent being driven by cab to Courtown to review his progress with Huston, who vacillated between praising and belittling the writer, whose sensitivities, in turn, gave way to anxieties. The Irish winter and professional pressures proved a toxic combination. “I was suicidal,” Bradbury said, “for the first time in my life” (Weller, Chronicles 222). On 1 February 1954, he sent his family to Sicily so they might find some relaxation following the stress and stayed on alone to do battle with the white whale. During this time he revised the final two thirds of his screenplay, his relationship with Huston deteriorating beyond true reconciliation. He left Ireland at the beginning of April from his point of entry, Dún Laoghaire Port, never to return for an extended stay.

 

Despite the grief and depression, Bradbury would, as he did with his childhood and trips to Mexico, cultivate nostalgia for Ireland. Biographer Sam Weller writes that “as painful as many of the memories were, there was something undeniably romantic about the loneliness he had felt there” (239). Bradbury recalled this tug in 2009 when introducing a performance of one of his Irish plays, Falling Upward: “When I got home a voice said in my mind, ‘Ray, darling.’ I said, ‘Who’s that?’ He said, ‘It’s your cab driver that drove you out along the Liffey three days a week to meet with John Huston. Do you remember that?’ I said, ‘Yes.’ He said, ‘Would you mind puttin’ it down?’ ”. “The First Night of Lent”, the first of his fictional shapings of his Irish experiences, was published in the March 1956 issue of Playboy, two years after he left. More Irish stories would follow over the next thirty-five years, culminating in his eighth novel, Green Shadows, White Whale (1992).

Bradbury fraternally twinned his title to screenwriter Peter Viertel’s roman à clef White Hunter, Black Heart (1953). Written shortly after his adaptation of C. S. Forester’s The African Queen for Huston, Viertel’s novel depicts a screenwriter struggling with film director John Wilson, who nearly sabotages his own film with an obsession for hunting elephants. Green Shadows, White Whale, pieced together nearly forty years after Viertel’s book, depicts a screenwriter struggling to adapt Melville for John Huston, this time named outright. Bradbury quilted his novel from many, but not all, of the Irish stories written over three decades, adding material as needed to pattern his own semiautobiographical account. Of the twelve previously published stories used, nine debuted in magazines before 1970, setting composition of much of the book’s content well before its publication. “The Hunt Wedding”, an essay that appeared in The American Way (May 1992), is also incorporated. Three of the stories were also published by Dial Press in 1963 as one-act plays in The Anthem Sprinters & Other Antics, and in 1988 Bradbury pieced two of these one-acts together to produce the play Falling Upward. Also worth noting is the fact that leading up to the novel, Bradbury adapted several of the Irish stories for his television series, The Ray Bradbury Theater, which ran from 1985 to 1992 (“The Banshee”, “The Haunting of the New”, and “The Anthem Sprinters”). And yet even more, the story “The Better Part of Wisdom” (1976) and the one-act “A Clear View of an Irish Mist” (1963), which fall within Bradbury’s Irish work, did not become parts of the novel. Their exclusion indicates that Green Shadows is more than a cut-and-paste effort.

When the stories were initially published, Bradbury’s alter ego, Douglas, was sometimes named as the screenwriter who has arrived in Dublin to work on a film. He narrates “The First Night of Lent” (1956), “The Anthem Sprinters” (1963), and “Banshee” (1984, as Douglas Rogers). Though not identified by name, it can be assumed that Douglas also narrates “A Wild Night in Galway” (1959), “The Beggar on the O’Connell Bridge” (1961), “Getting Through Sunday Somehow” (1962), and “McGilahee’s Brat” (1970). When these stories occur in Green Shadows, there is no mention of Douglas—or the name Ray Bradbury. Bradbury-as-narrator allows Huston to call him H. G., short for H. G. Wells. Later, a fictional former flame, Nora (Barnacle perhaps?), calls him William, Willy, Will, flattering him with a pet name alluding to Shakespeare (In the original short story, “The Haunting of the New” [1969], he is Charles, Charlie, Chuck, carrying no literary allusion). Bradbury remains reluctant to identify himself fully in the text, even though the dust jacket blurb on the first edition underlines his biographical connection to Ireland and the story contained.

Perhaps his distancing comes down to the mechanics of fiction-infused memoir. While Bradbury is happy to admit that the novel is inspired by actual events, whereas he even names John Huston and Huston’s fourth wife Ricki, he has all but excised his own family from the Irish experience. Bradbury depicts his time on the island as spent alone, even though his wife, daughters, and their nanny were actually with him for four of the six months. Also absent from the novel are the Hustons’ children Anjelica and Tony. We can speculate any number of reasons for these choices, from the idea that Bradbury was protecting the innocent, so to speak, to the possibility that practicality won out, as populating a narrative with full-fledged families brings considerably complicating factors. The only certainty is that when fusing his life and prior fiction into the novel, Bradbury left certain people out of the story, much the same way he cut fire-worshipping Fedallah from Moby-Dick when writing his screenplay. The familial exclusion has a profound effect, in particular on chapter 13, revised from “The Beggar on the O’Connell Bridge”. When initially published in the Saturday Evening Post (14 January 1961), the narrator’s wife plays his foil; in Green Shadows, the wife is simply replaced, often with dialogue intact, by the saturnine Huston.

In his final years, Bradbury often credited his experiences in Ireland as having established him financially secure as a writer with a respected reputation. Whereas Viertel rushed to express the trauma of working for John Huston in his own novel, Bradbury waited decades, until he was on the other side of adulthood, to put it all together. Biographer and scholar Jon R. Eller has said that the novel “offers a balanced view of events, tempered by the passage of time” (55). The screenwriting job forms the basis of his narrator’s focus, though it often slips out of the narrative as episodic events emerge. While Huston is cast as Ahab to Bradbury’s Starbuck, Ireland and the Irish repeatedly interrupt their self-imposed and often frustrating work together. That is not to say Ireland and the Irish are used merely as comic relief, though there is plenty of comedy and the narrator often takes relief in their company. The question they repeatedly pose the screenwriter is asked upfront in the book’s opening scene by the customs inspector in Dún Laoghaire: “Your reason for being in Ireland?”

“Reason has nothing to do with it,” he answers (2). There is no tie to Moby-Dick that would make adapting it on Irish soil pertinent. Indeed, these Americans are in Ireland simply because they can be. In Melville’s novel, Ishmael asks, “What to that redoubted harpooner, John Bull, is poor Ireland, but a Fast-Fish?” (310). According to whaling rules, “A Fast-Fish belongs to the party fast to it” (308). John Bull stands in for England in Ishmael’s statement, but the same could be said about John Huston. Huston’s choice of Ireland was his simply because he felt entitled to it. Bradbury offers fox-hunts and horse riding as Huston’s main draw to the island, not the people, the culture, the history, or even the common American lure of ancestry. There is not a single good reason for the narrator to be brought far from his home in Southern California, the capital of American filmmaking, where screenwriting is an industry. Huston’s irrational choice of work setting carries the effect of making every encounter Bradbury’s narrator has with Ireland a twinkling of serendipity.

For Bradbury, who proudly sentimentalised whatever he loved, Ireland receives his signature nostalgic treatment. Stereotypes of the land and people abound. Ireland is green: “Not just one ordinary sort of green, but every shade and variation. Even the shadows were green” (1). Rain abounds, as does fog, the weather played up in a typical fashion. But where many narratives of a stranger in a known land will use local landmarks to excess, Green Shadows remains innocent of that literary misdemeanor. Dublin is largely limited to Grafton Street, St. Stephen’s Green, and the O’Connell Bridge. When dealing with Huston, the setting typically shifts to the grounds of Courtown in County Kildare and, to recover from the stress, Heeber Finn’s Pub in Kilcock. There are no side-trips to kiss the Blarney Stone, sheep-gaze at Tara, or walk the Giant’s Causeway in the North. Green Shadows does not stand as a traditional travel narrative, and while the narrator is conscious of his own naiveté—“ ‘Kind to Dogs’ is writ on my brow,” he claims (90)—this is not The Innocents Abroad.

“The greatest temptation for a writer in dealing with the Irish,” wrote Irish critic Bruce Cook in his 1966 article “Ray Bradbury and the Irish”, “is to be taken in by their quaintness” (225). Coming from the Midwest, the region most stereotypically equated with quaintness in the United States, Bradbury plays up this quality in the Irish while also playing it up in his narrator. It is difficult to fault him with it when he so readily makes it a foundational aspect of his alter ego. His folksy, hail-fellow-well-met manner harmonises with that presented by the Irish characters and forms an in-road to their lives; friendliness meets friendliness, and there relations remain. There are no intimate connections made, though casual friendships are plentiful. Cab driver Nick and publican Heeber Finn receive the most attention, Finn even taking over narration in chapters 12 and 18, telling tales published earlier as “The Terrible Conflagration Up at the Place” (1969) and “One for His Lordship, and One for the Road!” (1985), and chapter 26, in which he relates a story about George Bernard Shaw visiting his pub. These are the only instances where the narrator yields to an Irish character and show Bradbury’s effort to represent a sustained Irish voice. He does not attempt to render brogue through phonetic spellings, apart from the odd “Jaisus”, and this is to his credit. While the characters’ speech may not always ring true to an Irish reader, it can hardly offend.

The pub stories are often humorous, focusing on playful conflicts between locals and gentry, represented here as Lord Kilgotten. One of Finn’s tales recounts an episode from the revolution where their intention to burn down the lord’s house is foiled by Kilgotten’s gentle appeal that they spare his artwork, which all appreciate. In the other, old Kilgotten has died, his departure “like the Normans’ rowing back to France or the damned Brits pulling out of Bombay” (129), and his intention to take his wine collection to the grave with him is circumvented by a crowd of thirsty villagers all too happy to make sure that his last wish come true. “And bless this wine, which may circumnavigate along the way, but finally wind up where it should be going,” they solemnly swear. “And if today and tonight won’t do, and all the stuff not drunk, bless us as we return each night until the deed is done and the soul of the wine’s at rest” (139). These tales are not so much parody of Ireland’s fight for independence as they are Bradbury’s pastiche of the stories he heard told in pubs by the people he met.

Another demographic that receives attention is the urban poor of Dublin, beggars being central in two distinct episodes. Bradbury, a survivor of the Great Depression, was not ignorant of hardship. His father was out of work for long periods during his childhood and lack of money dictated that the suit he wore to high school graduation came from an uncle who had been shot dead wearing it. But in the early fifties he was also getting to know American prosperity, making his living as a writer in the postwar years. His anxieties about money and the potential lack of it are present in his fixation on Irish beggars. In the first episode he resolves to help a blind concertina-player, often seen on the O’Connell Bridge, by buying him a cap to keep his head dry, only to discover the man committed suicide the day before by jumping into the Liffey. A rare Dublin snow falls and the narrator, standing outside the Royal Hibernian Hotel where he is staying, looks up at the lit windows wondering what it is like inside. This is his private, conscious attempt to put himself in the beggar’s place. Later in the novel, he does interact with some beggars he recognises from his first trip to Ireland, fifteen years in the past. The catch is that the woman’s infant has not grown in all that time, the narrator discovering that the babe is actually her dwarf brother, McGillahee’s Brat. His attitude to the beggars this go around has him unmasking the ruse before adopting a conspiratorial stance, promising to keep their secret and not write about it for thirty years. The siblings’ hope is to save enough money to immigrate to New York, a Tír na nÓg wish the narrator supports. And so Bradbury’s Dublin is home to beggars both despondent and hopeful. Their presence provides a contrast to the bored wealth displayed by Huston and his acquaintances among the foxhunting class.

Bradbury’s summation of the Irish people in the end is based on the observations not of a Hibernophile, but a working visitor. Finn asks him, at his departure and the close of the novel, “On the Irish now. Have you crossed our T’s and dotted our I’s? How would you best describe . . . ?” (269). The narrator’s insight, for what it is worth, comes down to his appreciation for the people’s imagination:

“Imagination,” I went on. “Great God, everything’s wrong. Where are you? On a flyspeck isle nine thousand miles north of nowhere!! What wealth is there? None! What natural resources? Only one: the resourceful genius, the golden mind, of everyone I’ve met! The mind that looks out the eyes, the words that roll off the tongue in response to events no bigger than the eye of a needle! From so little you glean so much; squeeze the last ounce of life from a flower with one petal, a night with no stars, a day with no sun, a theater haunted by old films, a bump on the head that in America would have been treated with a Band-Aid. Here and everywhere in Ireland, it goes on. Someone picks up a string, someone else ties a knot in it, a third one adds a bow, and by morn you’ve got a rug on the floor, a drape at the window, a harp-thread tapestry singing on the wall, all starting from that string! The Church puts her on her knees, the weather drowns her, politics all but buries her . . . but Ireland still sprints for that far exit. And do you know, by God, I think she’ll make it!” (269-70)

A portion of his declaration echoes Shaw from Finn’s earlier story: “The Irish. From so little they glean so much: squeeze the last ounce of joy from a flower with no petals, a night with no stars, a day with no sun” (197). And while his narrator’s exposure to Shaw in the novel amounts to what Finn has told him, Bradbury actually attended a performance of Shaw’s play St. Joan while living in Dublin. The production marked the beginning of his love for Shaw, which intensified as he aged. In 1976 he published a tribute, “G.B.S.—Mark V,” the story of a lonesome astronaut who befriends the robotic George Bernard Shaw installed on his rocket. And of Shaw’s collected play prefaces, Bradbury in his eighth decade would say, “That book is my bible” (Weller, Listen 162). Shaw was his favorite writer in the second half of his life, making it deliberate that the narrator in Green Shadows should in the end turn to Shaw-via-Finn in his attempt to understand the Irish.

The men at the pub do not react to his summation of them. They do not stand or see him out as he leaves for good, making for a most casual farewell. There is no Lion, Tin Woodsman, or Scarecrow to embrace, the many acquaintances he made remaining just that: acquaintances. The novel is dedicated in part “to the memory of Heeber Finn, Nick (Mike) my taxi driver, and all the boyos in the pub . . . ” Memory of his cab driver spurred Bradbury to write his first Irish tale and it is to memory that he offered a novel nearly forty years later. Scholars Eller and William F. Touponce believe “Bradbury’s Irish ultimately turns out to be a reflection of his own concerns . . . about affirming the life of the imagination even in the presence of overwhelming negativity” (426). It is also his way of giving thanks to Ireland for providing the ground upon which he crossed the threshold into his own maturity.

Further References

“Ray Bradbury, Moby Dick and the Irish Connection”, Irish Times (20 July 2020)

Ray Bradbury discussing Green Shadows, White Whale (Part 1)

Ray Bradbury discussing Green Shadows, White Whale (Part 2)

Ray Bradbury Centennial

Ray Bradbury Experience Museum in Waukegan

Works Cited

Bradbury, Ray. Green Shadows, White Whale. New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1992.

Cook, Bruce. “Ray Bradbury and the Irish”. Catholic World 200 (1965): 224-30.

Eller, Jonathan R. “Adapting Melville for the Screen”. The New Ray Bradbury Review 1 (2008): 35-60.

Eller, Jonathan R. and William F. Touponce. Ray Bradbury: The Life of Fiction. Kent: Kent State University, 2004.

ForrestJBradbury. “Ray Bradbury’s Falling Upward ~ 090228”. 3 March 2009.

Melville, Herman. Moby-Dick. New York: Norton, 2002.

Weller, Sam. The Bradbury Chronicles: The Life of Ray Bradbury. New York: Harper Perennial, 2005.

Weller, Sam. Listen to the Echoes: The Ray Bradbury Interviews. Brooklyn: Melville House, 2010.

Steve Gronert Ellerhoff holds a PhD in English from Trinity College Dublin. He is the author of Mole (Reaktion Books) and Post-Jungian Psychology and the Short Stories of Ray Bradbury and Kurt Vonnegut: Golden Apples of the Monkey House (Routledge). Honouring Bradbury’s centenary in 2020, he co-edited Exploring the Horror of Supernatural Fiction: Ray Bradbury’s Elliott Family (Routledge). Currently he is writing Jung and the Mythology of Star Wars and a novel. He lives in Eugene, Oregon.