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Book Reviews – My Pear-Shaped Life and Hitching for Hope

Over the next few months we are shining a spotlight on recently published books by Irish writers, many of whom are missing out on events at the moment.

All the book review videos are available to view at

The third review is of My Pear-Shaped Life by Carmel Harrington. Published by Harper Collins and available to buy now from all good book shops. #SupportIrishWriters


The fourth review is of Hitching for Hope by Ruairí McKiernan. Published by Chelsea Green and available to buy now! #SupportIrishWriters

City of Books – New Episode featuring Joanna Trollope and Colum McCann


Joanna Trollope has a string of international bestsellers to her name, from Marrying the Mistress and A Village Affair to An Unsuitable Match and The Rector’s Wife.

She has also updated a version of Jane Austen’s Sense and Sensibility. And in her interview for the City of Books podcast, Joanna says of the trailblazing writer: “All her characters translate absolutely seamlessly to the present day.”

In this wide-ranging interview, she discusses the ‘three F’s’ which have interested her for decades: fiction, family and feminism.

Joanna has been a feminist for more than half a century – almost as long as she’s been writing books – and quotes Warren Buffet who, when asked for the secret of his success, said it was because he had only to compete against half the world.

Every Englishwoman of her generation had to speak French, learn ballet and how to ride, she said. As a skillset, she’s unsure of its worth today, but has no such doubts about the value of stories. Fiction matters, she insists, particularly novels about domestic life: “Great credence is given to huge, world-changing things but the family is where we learn everything that we then practise in later life.”

Joanna’s latest novel is Mum & Dad which deals with what she calls “the sandwich generation” – women who juggle careers, raising their children and caring for elderly relatives. It’s about a family dilemma when the dream turns to ashes for a couple who relocate to Spain to run a vineyard.

Elsewhere in the episode, Apeirogon author Colum McCann pays tribute to the poet Eavan Boland, who died recently.


City of Books is sponsored by Dublin UNESCO City of Literature, Dublin City Council and the Museum of Literature Ireland (MOLI). Its host is Martina Devlin.

New Books by Irish Writers

Over the next few months we will be shining a spotlight on newly published books by Irish writers, many of whom are missing out on book launches and events. The good news is that most Irish book shops are selling online and/or by telephone so do check out your local book shop to see if it’s open for business!

The first video review is of Handiwork by Sara Baume, published by Tramp Press. 

A City as a Writer’s Workplace: Photos Sought

Our friends in Ulyanovsk UNESCO City of Literature have announced an open call for applications for the project “A City as a Writer’s Workplace”. Writers, poets, playwrights and other authors as well as translators and literary artists from the UNESCO literary cities are invited to tell them about places in their cities where they like to work on texts.

Their idea is to collect photos from authors about the places in their cities where they like to work on their texts.

It’s very interesting to explore how authors write today: some writers write at home at their desk or while they take a bath, others write poems right on their smartphones, while others love to write at the airport, on the train or while cycling around the city. We want to explore how the working conditions of authors are changing today. This will help better understand the writer’s relationship with the city. The idea will also help the authors of the UNESCO literary cities to learn more about each other’s work and also to draw the attention of readers to local authors.

The project will result in an international online exhibition with photos of the workplaces of authors from the UNESCO literary cities. The online exhibition will be placed on the “Ulyanovsk UNESCO City of Literature” website.

Authors from the UNESCO Cities of Literature, literary artists (or authors, literary artists connected with one of the UNESCO literary cities: for example, you were engaged in some kind of collaboration with a writer or translator from this city, or this city inspired you to write a text, or you were born, you worked there, etc.) who wish to take part in the project are invited to send a photo and a short text about their favorite place in the city or home where they like to write texts. These may be photos of any place:

– a work desk, a bath or whatever at home;

-a path, a bench, or whatever in a park;

– a table in a cafe;

– an airport waiting room;

– a car, a train, a bike, etc.;

– any other place in your city that inspires you to work on the texts.

Important: you do not need to make a portrait of yourself in this place, just send a photo of the place itself, as the exhibition is dedicated to the writers’ workplaces.

Requirements for photos and texts

– The quality of the photo is at least 1280×1024 (please sign the place where the photo was taken: for example, “My Desktop at Home, Granada” or “The Bench on which I like to write stories in the park, Melbourne”). 

– 1 paragraph of the text telling about your favorite workplace in the city (text in English, with the name of the author, the genres in which the author works, the city author lives in, the website of the writer (if any)).

Photos and texts are accepted at (you can also send your questions to this e-mail address).

Deadline: April 26

The online exhibition can be viewed for free by anyone in any country of the world. Each participant will receive a link to the exhibition by e-mail. The opening of the exhibition will be covered by mass media and social media.

Red Line Book Festival Writer-in-Residence Sought

The Red Line Book Festival is is currently inviting submissions from qualified participants for consideration for their Writer-in-Residence Scheme.

The ninth annual Red Line Book Festival will take place from 12th – 18th October 2020, and features local, national and international authors, as well as panels, workshops, theatrical productions, children’s events and more.

Given the uncertain times we are currently living through, we are committed to hosting a festival, and a writer-in-residence, however, quite honestly, at this stage, we’re not sure what format the festival and the residency will take. Will we still be locked down in October? What will the literary world be like by then, after however long? How will the local, national and global communities have responded, and continue to respond?

With this in mind, the theme of this year’s residency is Connection Reset. Stemming from an internet term for when the site you are connected to has reset the connection, isn’t that what the whole world is going through right now? Aren’t we all finding new and meaningful ways of connecting and, necessity being the mother of invention, redefining the whole process of human connection?

The Writer-in-Residence (WIR) will be contracted on a part-time basis for ten weeks, from before the launch of the festival until after its completion. We want someone to fully engage with the theme, and the applicant will need to be hugely flexible and adaptable to the current situation – how will this be delivered, and to whom? Let’s find out together.

A hugely important aspect of the scheme is supporting the selected writer, in these uncertain times, providing them a firmer financial footing to further their own work.

More details on the Residency 

If you have any queries, please contact

The Red Line Book Festival Writer-in-Residence programme is supported by South Dublin Libraries and Arts.

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

Words Ireland – National Mentoring Programme

National Mentoring Programme 


Are you a new, emerging or recently published writer? Would you like professional help with your current work-in-progress? 

Dublin UNESCO City of Literature is supporting the Words Ireland National Mentoring Programme, which will ensure that at least one writer or poet from Dublin will benefit from a literature mentoring relationship. 

The mentoring process involves 4 x two-hour meetings between the selected ‘mentee’ and their chosen professional writer over a 6–8 month period. The mentor will read up to 10,000 words of the mentee’s prose, or a selection of poems, in advance of each meeting and share their critical feedback and advice. The work in progress of the mentee is discussed in depth.  

Applications must be made via Submittable. Selected mentees must be willing and able to meet mentors via Skype, Zoom or phone for initial meetings.  

Full application details are available here:  

Deadline is noon on 4 May 2020. 


Quotes from previous recipients: 

It has been a very positive experience for me and I am a lot more confident about my story now. 

Without it, I would have found it very difficult to return to the book, as I had spent so much time on 

it previously and I simply didn’t know what to do with it. Knowing that my mentor was expecting 

work by certain deadlines really concentrated my mind and pushed me forward. 

It’s particularly helpful to have someone engage with your work critically and interrogate not just the MS but your intentions as author. I feel I’m being forced to address issues I took for granted before, which I 

think is a good thing to do before I start the journey to publication. 

I expected to focus on the words, but virtually all of my effort has gone into structure and 

character. I have been encouraged to develop a more global perspective on the work, while also 

attending to minute details about character and narrative voice. 

The experience so far has been invaluable: having thorough, focused attention on my work has 

enhanced my knowledge, especially at this point in my writing journey. 


About Words IrelandThe National Mentoring Programme is run by Words Ireland. It is a grouping of seven national literature resource organisations aimed at supporting writers and developing new audiences for literature. These seven organisations that make up the collective include: Literature Ireland, Children’s Books Ireland, Irish Writers Centre, The Stinging Fly, Poetry Ireland, Munster Literature Centre, and Publishing Ireland. Its programme is funded by the Arts Council of Ireland, but the board work on a voluntary basis. It is chaired by Michael McLoughlin, Chair of Penguin Random House, Ireland.  


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.




So you want to be a writer……..

We are living in strange and uncertain times, and we are all doing our best to keep ourselves, our loved ones and everyone else safe and well by staying indoors.

Maybe you have time now to try your hand at that novel or screenplay you’ve always dreamt about writing?

If so, welcome to your one-stop shop for great online writing supports including courses, magazines, books and reference tools, all FREE and all available with your Dublin City Libraries card.

Our library staff are working behind the scenes.

Here is the latest blog post full of online resources for writers…..



Dublin One City One Book – Postponed

A Message from Dublin UNESCO City of Literature:

It is with regret that we inform you of the postponement of all the Dublin One City One Book events, scheduled in April, due to the covid-19 situation.

It is hoped that the events will be rescheduled later in the year so please watch out for further updates. Follow us on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram to be kept informed.

In the meantime, enjoy reading “Tatty”, taking pleasure in the joy of a good book.

We look forward to seeing you at one of our City of Literature events in the not too distant future.


City of Literature Team