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“The Truth About Secret and Lies” City of Books Podcast with Eoin McNamee


Writer Eoin McNamee blurs fact and fiction to produce art, whether exploring the activities of secret intelligence agencies or speculating why Princess Diana died in a high speed car accident.

His novels are both gritty and poetic – beautifully written noir – and have earned him a Booker nomination.

But they sometimes attract criticism for being near the knuckle, although he sees that as their function, he tells Martina Devlin in the latest episode of City of Books.

His most recent novel, The Vogue, is set in the North where a corpse is dug up, and other secrets uncovered along with it. “A wonderfully eerie, tragic read” is how Milkman author Anna Burns describes it.

Elsewhere in the podcast, he says he never imagined writing his novel 12:23, about Diana’s death in Paris in 1997. But he took on the subject because he saw parallels with Northern Ireland, where he grew up near the border.

“There you have one of the most valuable heads in the world and she’s driving through Paris and there are no security people around her. Nobody is keeping an eye on her. Nobody’s watching her. Why? Why is nobody watching her? Where are the people?”

He said this scenario was familiar from the Troubles, when there were cases of security forces stepping back to facilitate paramilitary-led assassinations.

“There is a name for it. They sanitise an area – they withdraw all security forces from it to give them a clear run in. Is this what happened (with Diana)? Did they sanitise it? The more you look at it the stranger it gets. Something terribly untoward happened.”

Elsewhere in the podcast, he discusses writing episodes for the Netflix series Valhalla, a Vikings offshoot.And he insists it’s not a writer’s job to be a moral arbiter.

“If a writer accepts that, it almost emasculates them. All of a sudden you allow yourself to become a public figure and they’re putting your face on a tea towel and calling a warship after you.

“Writing should be transgressive. The actual authority lies in the art.”

His latest novel is The Vogue, published by Faber, more info here:

:: City of Books is funded by the Arts Council of Ireland, supported by Dublin UNESCO City of Literature and MOLI, and is available free on all podcast platforms.




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