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New City of Books Podcast Featuring Jan Carson

Faith, Hope and Humour

The Raptures is Jan Carson’s most autobiographical novel, dealing with a child raised in an evangelical Christian community in 1990s Northern Ireland – which mirrors her own background.

In her book, a class of children from the same village fall prey to a mysterious and deadly epidemic. Only one pupil seems to be avoiding the effects of the disease: Hannah, a girl from a born-again Christian background.

“There is a lot of me in this book and for that reason it was both very easy to write because I know this world very well, there wasn’t a lot of research to do, but quite difficult to write – to go to the hard places,” Jan tells Martina Devlin in the latest City of Books podcast.

“It’s very easy to pastiche this world. It’s very easy to pastiche Protestant culture in the North full stop. It’s much more difficult to have a nuanced look at it.”

In her books, Jan gives readers a strong sense of the Protestant experience, especially for those from the ‘born again’ community.

“I grew up absolutely immersed in the King James Bible,” she says. “That is not a bad literary document to be immersed in as a writer. It’s got everything from poetry and prophecy to magical realism and beautiful, beautiful language. I’m very glad for those things.”

But she is not happy about other elements. “I was brought up in a community that thought politics was dirty…so we didn’t vote in our family. And I’m not particularly grateful for that.

“It’s an apolitical stance. We don’t go to the cinema – the cinema is worldly. We don’t get involved in politics because politics is of the world. You trust God to sort out those things.”

The Raptures by Jan Carson is published by Doubleday.


Ljubljana UNESCO City of Literature International Literary Residency

Writer in the Park
Ljubljana UNESCO City of Literature International Literary Residency

Ljubljana, the capital of Slovenia, was a World Book Capital in 2010. After being awarded a UNESCO City of Literature in 2015, it joined a growing world-wide network of cities and committed to actively promote literature, reading culture, and engage in activities that would strengthen the collaboration in the field of writing and publishing. 

Ljubljana bursts with a vibrant art scene and offers an array of diverse literary events from alternative performances to big international festivals. The highly regarded residency, established in 2018, offers peace and quiet for uninterrupted writing, yet it also offers the possibility to actively engage in the city’s literary life.

Note: Part of the application is a mandatory letter of recommendation, signed by an organization from your chosen City of Literature. A Google account is required for the file upload to work.

Deadline for submissions: January 7, 2023

Apply here:

Ljubljana, a UNESCO City of Literature since 2015, offers two one-month residencies for writers at the Švicarija/Swisshouse Creative Centre, which is part of the International Centre of Graphic Arts.

One month per residency/applicant. Possible periods are as follows (dates cannot be changed, but a shorter stay is possible if necessary as a result of travel arrangements):
June 1–30, 2023
October 17 – November 17, 2023 

The residency is aimed at foreign published writers with a palpable, factual relation with any of the other UNESCO Cities of Literature that has to be apparent and described as part of the application. This means the applicant was or has been living in one of the other cities of literature or is related to a city of literature through work. For reference, consult the list of eligible cities.

The applicant must have published at least one book of fiction (be it prose, poetry or drama) in their language. There are no restrictions regarding age, race, gender, nationality or other personal/aesthetic preferences. Though writers of all genres are currently welcome to apply, a specific focus might be chosen for calls in the following years.

What we offer
Each resident will get a sum amount of the grant and travel expenses of €1000 gross in total (details regarding potential wire-transfer charges and other expenses can be found in the contract that can be sent to the applicant upon request). Each resident will stay in their own, separate and fully equipped apartment with a kitchenette at Švicarija, along with other artists-residents, artists, and exhibitions hosted at the premises.

More Details


New City of Books Podcast Featuring John Boyne


“I really don’t like the fact that sometimes I’m referred to as kind of a controversial novelist because I don’t feel that I am,” says John Boyne, whose novel The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas has sold 11 million copies and mounting, and has been reimagined as a film, play, ballet and opera.

He has written a sequel – All The Broken Places – imagining life after the Holocaust for some of the characters in the 2006 novel, which saw life in a concentration camp through the eyes of two small boys. That earlier novel is taught in schools, but also attracts criticism.

“I’m not controversial as a person,” he tells Martina Devlin in the latest episode of the City of Books podcast for Dublin UNESCO City of Literature. “I’m not a provocateur at all as a person. And I certainly don’t mean to come across that way either in the books that I write or in my interviews.

“I’m not immune to the fact people have criticised The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas in more recent years – not for the first 14 or so years of its publication. I’m not immune to the arguments I’ve faced over My Brother’s Name is Jessica about a trans teenager. And I’m not immune to the fact that there’s a vocal amount of people who feel I should never be writing a book like All The Broken Places.

“But I also feel what can we do as writers but write the book that feels right to us at the time? The one that is jumping up and down in our heads and saying write me? I think if we say to ourselves, ‘well, no, I’ll only get into trouble for that – it’ll only cause problems’ then maybe we’re in the wrong job.

“But I certainly try to write the books in a sensitive and careful way. I don’t try to write them in a way that will cause trouble. But trouble seems to come my way.”

He says The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas boy has become “almost a touchstone” for people who feel negativity him. But with any writing project, he feels the fear and does it anyway.

  • All The Broken Places is published by Penguin Random House. Its author John Boyne is shortlisted for the 2022 Irish Book Awards in the Author of the Year category.



Irish Authors Selected for International Residency Programmes


Congratulations to writers Catherine Dunne and Catriona Shine who have been selected to take part in international writing residencies organised by our sister Cities of Literature in Melbourne and Nanjing. These residences were open to authors connected with any of the UNESCO Cities of Literature.

Catherine Dunne will be working virtually with Brimbank Libraries in Melbourne as their writer in residence. 

Catriona Shine has started her virtual residency at the Nanjing International Writers’ Residency Program. 

New City of Books Podcast Featuring Andrew Meehan


Andrew Meehan is nailing his colours to the mast. He writes love stories, he says – although it took him until his third and most recent novel to recognise it.

It was only as he was working on his latest novel, Instant Fires, that realisation dawned.

“Halfway through I discovered, ‘Andrew, you write love stories. OK, it took you a while to cop on to the fact it’s what you do’.” Looking back, he understands that all three of his novels are love stories.

“You write what you want to read,” concludes Andrew, formerly head of development with the Irish Film Board.

“We all get put in boxes and some of us invite ourselves into certain boxes and I’m now embracing the fact that I’m a writer of love stories,” he tells Martina Devlin in the latest City of Books podcast.

“I would be happy to have Instant Fires described as a romcom,” he says, while describing it as “a reasonably slow and gentle and thoughtful romcom” and “almost like a European art house movie”.

The novel is about two strangers who meet over the course of a week in Heidelberg, Germany, and feel an instant attraction – despite the woman, Ute, being convinced love is not for her. Their courtship is  “diffident, gentle, awkward” and is characterised as a prelude to love by New Island, Andrew’s publisher.

  • Instant Fires by Andrew Meehan is published by New Island.


The Coroner’s Daughter by Andrew Hughes Chosen as 2023 One Dublin One Book

Dublin City Council and Dublin UNESCO City of Literature are delighted to announce that The Coroner’s Daughter by Andrew Hughes is the One Dublin One Book choice for 2023, following on from Nora by Nuala O’Connor in 2022.

One Dublin One Book aims to encourage everyone in Dublin to read a designated book connected with the capital city during the month of April every year. This annual project is a Dublin City Council initiative, led by Dublin UNESCO City of Literature and Dublin City Libraries, which encourages reading for pleasure. The initiative is also funded by the Department of Tourism, Culture, Arts, Gaeltacht, Sport and Media.

Dublin City Librarian, Mairead Owens, says “The Coroner’s Daughter is a story rooted in Dublin city of the early 19th Century with fascinating themes such as forensic science, religion, and the role of women in Ireland at the time. It is also an entertaining detective story, which I’m sure will engage the readers of Dublin and beyond. I’m looking forward to the discussions that will take place among readers next April.”

A new One Dublin One Book edition of The Coroner’s Daughter (Penguin-Transworld) will be available to borrow from all public libraries nationwide and to buy from all good book shops. There will be a programme of free events in April to accompany the reading initiative. 

Andrew Hughes says “I’m so thrilled that The Coroner’s Daughter has been chosen for next year’s One Dublin One Book. The city has always been a huge source of inspiration, providing me with a setting and a cast of characters, and I love uncovering stories hidden in Dublin’s old houses. Although I’m from Wexford, I went to college here, have lived in Drumcondra for more than twenty years, and all of my extended family are Dubliners, so it’s a huge source of pride to have my book celebrated in this way. I sincerely hope readers enjoy following Abigail and her forensic investigations. I can’t wait for the events to begin next April.”


The Book

1816 was the year without a summer. A rare climatic event has brought frost to July, and a lingering fog casts a pall over Dublin – a city stirred by zealotry and civil unrest, torn between evangelical and rationalist dogma.

Amid the disquiet, a young nursemaid in a pious household conceals a pregnancy and then murders her newborn. Rumours swirl about the identity of the child’s father, but before an inquest can be held, the maid is found dead. When Abigail Lawless, the eighteen-year-old daughter of the city coroner, by chance discovers a message from the maid’s seducer, she is drawn into a world of hidden meanings and deceit.

An only child, Abigail has been raised amid the books and instruments of her father’s grim profession. Pushing against the restrictions society places on a girl her age, she pursues an increasingly dangerous investigation. As she leads us through dissection rooms and dead houses, gothic churches and elegant ballrooms, watching from the shadows is a sinister figure whom she believes has killed twice already, and is waiting to kill again . . .

Determined, resourceful and intuitive, and more than just a dutiful daughter or society débutante, Abigail Lawless emerges as a memorable young sleuth operating at the dawn of forensic science.



The Author

Born in Co. Wexford, Andrew Hughes was educated at Trinity College, Dublin. A qualified archivist, he worked for RTÉ before going freelance. It was while researching his social history of Fitzwilliam Square – Lives Less Ordinary: Dublin’s Fitzwilliam Square, 1798-1922 – that he came across the true story of John Delahunt, a Victorian murderer and Dublin Castle informer. His debut novel, The Convictions of John Delahunt, was shortlisted for the Bord Gáis Irish Crime Book of the Year. The Coroner’s Daughter, a tale of a young lady sleuth operating at the dawn of forensic science, was nominated for the CWA Historical Dagger. Andrew lives in Drumcondra, where he continues to work on archival and historical research projects, as well as Dublin-set crime fiction.


The Publisher

The Coroner’s Daughter is published by Transworld, a division of Penguin Random House.


Nanjing International Writers Residency 2022 – Open Call

Nanjing is offering 6 virtual residencies in 2022 to writers, poets and translators from all UNESCO Cities of Literature.

Nanjing International Writers Residency makes a lasting bridge for the city’s literary community to develop mutual understanding with its international counterparts. This yearly program was initiated early 2019 and has hosted 18 writers, poets and translators from the subnetwork. The program turned virtual since the COVID outbreak in 2020.

Nanjing boasts a literary tradition of over 1800 years. The city served as China’s capital for about 400 years across six dynasties. Its heritages left from those dynasties and its diversified culture today have all contributed to its role as a “most luring destination” for inbound travelers to China.

The Theme

The theme for 2022 program is “Rivers and Literature”. Rivers across the world have made significant contributions to culture and civilization, making themselves a lasting topic for literary creation. Waterways may serve as origins for literary imagination. They may turn into a protagonist in the literary works. And on many occasions they are carriers of literary stories, making cultural communication fluid and far-reaching.

With “Rivers and Literature” as the theme for Nanjing Reisdency 2022, we hope that participants may draw inspirations from rivers across the world for their literary creation, and promote literary communication at both local and international levels.

The Timing

Open call for applications: from 19 September till 21 October 2022

Residency lasts from 31 October till 30 November 2022

What We Offer

  • Virtual tours to culture landmarks in Nanjing;
  • A selection of literary activities;
  • Online interactions with Nanjing writers, poets, translators, literary organizations, and students;
  • A stipend of 1200 USD for each selected writer.

What We Expect

Selected paticipants to:

  • Be connected to a UNESCO City of Literature (either a resident or one who works or studies in that city, or has other connections with that city as recognized in writing by a City of Literature office)
  • Have at least three-year experience in writing, or at least one published work ( book in print, all genres acceptable), or have received awards that are recognized by your local literary communities.
  • Be willing to interact with Nanjing’s literary communities, emerging and established writers; as well as to partake in local literary activities;
  • Write a piece of work in English (no less than 1000 words, or 50 lines in poetry) that is inspired by the one-month virtual residency, or translate Chinese stories, poems or proses into English; (All the virtual writers will retain the copyrights of their works. Please understand the works might be used for promotional purpose by Nanjing Literature Center)
  • Be fluent in spoken English, or Chinese;

Documents for application

All applicants to submit:

  • An CV with a passport photo and a life size photo;
  • Extracts from his/her published works;
  • Proof in writing of his/her connection with a City of Literature, when applicable.

Please send all the required materials to the following contacts prior to Friday 21 October 2022.

The Selected Writers 2022 will be announced on Thursday 27 October. 


For further details please contact:

Lilas YUAN

Focal Point for Nanjing UNESCO City of Literature

Director of Nanjing Literature Center

Taotao Wang

Project Manager,

City of Books Podcast Featuring Emily Hourican


One of history’s most famous royal love affairs is threaded through Emily Hourican’s latest novel.

The backdrop to The Other Guinness Girl is the 1936 abdication crisis, when the newly-crowned King Edward VIII surrendered this throne to marry his twice-divorced American lover, Wallis Simpson.

“What was it about her that so compelled the Prince of Wales? Why was he determined to give up everything for her?” asks Emily in the latest episode of the City of Books podcast, sponsored by Dublin UNESCO City of Literature.

“There is one school of thought that he was just determined to give up everything anyway – she was just the excuse.

“And then there’s the more salacious school: she had some bizarre sexual hold over him. The truth presumably lies somewhere in the middle, as it always does.”

The world was riveted by the abdication crisis, even as it juddered towards war. Wallis, later Duchess of Windsor when she married the former king-emperor who reigned for less than year, was loathed in Britain, says Emily. People were also bewildered by her hold on him.

“Who was Wallis? What was so amazing about her? She was not particularly beautiful, she was not particularly charming or intelligent, she was not particularly young – and yet his devotion to her was completely and utterly unquestioning. It was till death did them part.”

Wallis was spat and jeered at in the street, and sent poison pen letters. “It was the moment at which the fantasy she had been fed, and everybody was colluding in, suddenly came up against reality,” Emily tells City of Books presenter Martina Devlin.

Her novel is the third in a trilogy about the women in the Guinness dynasty, whose members were bright young things in the social set surrounding the prince and Mrs Simpson.

The Other Guinness Girl: A Question of Honour by Emily Hourican is published by Hachette Books Ireland.


Applications open for DCU Writer-in-Residence opportunity

DCU Announces Writer-in-Residence Opportunities

Dublin City University is offering both English and Irish Language Writer in Residence positions.
Dublin City University and the Arts Council have announced two Writer in Residence positions for 2023, for Irish and English-language mid-career and established writers.

From January to December 2023, the Writer in Residence will be supported to engage with students and staff through focused teaching, workshops, mentoring, public events or other activities which bring new energy to the creative writing programme. From July onwards, the writer will be supported to concentrate his or her own practice.

Applications will be considered from writers in all forms including fiction, poetry, creative non-fiction, graphic fiction, children’s and young adult fiction, and poetry. The writers will be provided with a dedicated writing space during the year, along with other administrative supports. The successful candidates will receive a fee of €30,000.

Visit the Arts Council website to find out more and apply. The closing date for all positions is 5.30pm on Thursday, 29 September 2022.

Local Writers selected for the Irish Writers Centre’s National Mentoring Programme

Local writers Charlotte Buckley, Eoghan Carrick, and Caroline McEvoy have been selected by the Irish Writers Centre to receive professional literary mentoring over the next eight months from acclaimed Irish writers of their choice.

After a national call out, 37 writers have been selected from a total of over three hundred applicants.

Dublin UNESCO City of Literature and Dublin City Libraries funded the literary mentorship along with the Arts Council of Ireland to guarantee that the best applicants from the county would be selected. Their support will ensure that the chosen mentees receive this potentially life-changing support free of charge. It is also an investment in the long-term literary reputation of the region.

The mentoring process involves four meetings between the selected ‘mentees’ and their chosen professional writer. In advance of each meeting, the mentor reads up to 10,000 words / 180 lines of poetry of the awarded mentee’s writing, then shares their hard-earned critical feedback and advice.

The Irish Writers Centre’s mission is to support a vibrant and diverse community of writers of all types and talents to develop their craft, capacity and confidence to thrive as a writer in the world. The hope for the National Mentoring Programme is that the chosen mentees will go on to write great works of literature to match or best the quality of their mentors. It’s a form of peer to peer teaching that is increasingly popular in literature, formalizing the process whereby masters pass on their craft to students.

Running since 2017, the programme now has numerous published authors among its alumni, including Doireann Ní Ghríofa, Nidhi Zak/Aria Eipe, Fiona Scarlett, and Victoria Kennefick to name just a few.

Further details, or direct contacts for the writer or their chosen mentor, can got from Brendan at


Photo Charlotte Buckley

Charlotte Buckley’s poetry has appeared in The Stinging Fly, Ambit, and The Rialto. Her work has been listed for the Gregory O’Donoghue International Poetry Prize, the Poetry Book Society’s Women’s Poetry Competition, and the Basil Bunting Poetry Award. She lives in Dublin where she is doing a PhD in ecofeminist poetry.






Photo Eoghan Carrick


Eoghan Carrick is a theatre and opera maker working in Ireland and internationally. He works on new and established texts with a focus on innovative interpretations and interdisciplinary collaboration. His prose poem A History of Multiplying was published in the Spring 2022 Belfield Literary Review.






Photo Caroline Mc Evoy

Caroline has published short stories, flash fiction and non-fiction in The Guardian, Crossways, State of Matter, A New Ulster and Flash Fiction Magazine. She has a PhD in political science from Trinity College Dublin and has written articles for several academic publications, including an award winning article for the Journal of Common Market Studies. Caroline is currently finishing her MA in creative writing at DCU where she is working on her first novel. 





IWC Website:

Twitter: @IrishWritersCtr

Instagram: @IrishWritersCentre

Facebook: @IrishWritersCtr



About the Irish Writers Centre:

As the leading support and development organisation for writers since 1991, the Irish Writers Centre carries out its work, online and in person, on an all island basis. The Centre works with writers of all types and talents, and actively encourages writers from all communities to engage in creative writing. It provides many ways and means for them to develop their skill, advance their ambitions and join a vibrant and diverse community of people who share their passion and purpose.

The IWC is also a membership organisation, always seeking new opportunities for members to grow as writers and to connect with each other through IWC programmes and supports.

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.”

Contact: Laura McCormack, Irish Writers Centre Communications Officer

t: (+353) 1 872 1302 | e:

Direct contacts for writers or their chosen mentors, can got from Brendan Mac Evilly at