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New Episode – City of Books Podcast with Colum McCann

Described as a once-in-a-generation novel, Colum McCann’s latest book is something he calls a hybrid: “It does blur the line between fiction and non-fiction but it’s honest,” he says.

In an interview with the City of Books podcast, the multi-award-winning writer talks about his hope that the book, Apeirogon, may contribute to peace in the West Bank because it makes space for both the Israeli and Palestinian perspectives. It fictionalises the true story of two fathers, an Israeli and a Palestinian, who each lose a child in the conflict.

Elsewhere in the interview, Colum admits he can’t write poetry but is drawn to it, talks about writers he has known including Frank McCourt, and describes it felt to sit in the classroom as a teacher read aloud from one of his father’s children’s books about a young soccer star called Georgie Goode – modelled on George Best. He also reads from his novel.

City of Books is supported by Dublin UNESCO City of Literature and Dublin City Libraries in association with MOLI, the Museum of Literature Ireland. It is produced and presented by Martina Devlin.

:: Apeirogon is published by Bloomsbury


James and Nora: Portrait of a Marriage by Edna O’Brien

RTE Radio One will broadcast a half hour programme to coincide with the publication of Edna O’Brien’s new book James and Nora: Portrait of Joyce’s Marriage. The  novel which was first published in America in 1981 has been republished by Weidenfeld & Nicolson.  In it, Edna O’Brien paints a miniature portrait of an artist, idealist, insurgent and filled with a secret loneliness. In Nora hew as to find accomplice, collaborator and muse.

James and Nora – a reading by Edna O’Brien will be aired on RTE Radio One at 6.30pm on Saturday 13th June 2020. The book will be published on Bloomsday – 16th June.  

Correspondences – A Call to End Direct Provision in Ireland

Our latest book review is of Correspondences – an anthology which calls for an end to Direct Provision. It is edited by Stephen Rea and Jessica Traynor. All proceeds from the sale of the anthology go to MASI (Movement of Asylum Seekers Ireland) The anthology pairs writers, photographers and visual artists in the direct provision system in Ireland with Irish artists and writers.


New Episode – City of Books Podcast with Margaret Kelleher


The brutal murder of five members of one family in 19th century Ireland, and the trial which followed it, are the subject of Professor Margaret Kelleher’s book – discussed in our latest City of Books podcast.

The episode was recorded before the Covid 19 restrictions in the historic Green Street courthouse in Dublin, scene of the trial. Professor Kelleher of UCD is joined by President of the High Court, Mr Justice Peter Kelly.

All proceedings during the 1882 trial were conducted in English but some of the accused, from Connemara, spoke only Irish and didn’t understand what was happening.

Prof Kelleher’s book is The Maamtrasna Murders: Language, Life and Death in Nineteenth-Century Ireland, published by UCD Press.

City of Books is hosted by author and journalist Martina Devlin for Dublin UNESCO City of Literature and Dublin City Council, in association with MOLI the Museum of Literature Ireland.



UCD Festival 2020

The UCD Festival @home 2020 takes place this weekend from Thursday 21st to Sunday 24th May – with online workshops , expert talks and discussions.

There is a wide range of discussions and conversations including literature, sport, business and architecture. Some of Ireland’s leading sports stars will join us on Saturday to discuss leadership, teamwork and resilience in a time without sport. Also, UCD alum and RTÉ presenter Rick O’Shea has curated a strand of stimulating conversations featuring alumni and friends of UCD. They include celebrated authors Colm Tóibín, June Caldwell, Helen Cullen , Anne Griffin, Mark O’Connell and our 2015 Citywide Read author Dave Rudden.

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.