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Embassy Book Club: Message from Ambassador Helena Nolan

Embassy Book Club: Message from Ambassador Helena Nolan

Dear readers and good friends of Irish writing,

18 June, was our last Embassy Book Club before the summer break and we enjoyed a lively discussion of topical bio-thriller, The Manhattan Project, a first novel from Paul McNeive and the first venture into thrillers for the Book Club. We have had a great year of reading contemporary Irish fiction so far. We ended 2018 on a high note with the award winning Solar Bones by Mike McCormack which was a resounding favourite. At the end of January, for St Brigid’s Eve, we had a very popular cultural event which involved a number of Irish writers, social historians and commentators. In February, we were delighted to host a special bumper edition Book Club to discuss the fascinating new historical novel, The Branchman, in the company of its author, the award winning poet and writer Nessa O’Mahony, who also went to Leuven to meet Irish Studies students. In March, which is St Patrick’s month, we took a book club break, returning in April with another very popular choice, A Keeper, by Graham Norton. As this was our last Book Club with our former colleague, Ruth, we had some little cakes, which we tweeted about, as well as the book, enticing Mr Norton to reply! So far, several of our selected authors have tweeted back at the Book Club, which is always exciting and on this occasion, very appropriate too, as it was Ruth who had initiated the live tweeting to allow more people to follow and join in the Book Club fun. In May, we discussed the poignant and emotive When All Is Said by Anne Griffin.

We are now pleased to announce our Autumn line-up so that you can get reading over the summer holidays if you wish. In September, we will return with the brand new Joseph O’Connor, Shadowplay. In mid-October, the month of Halloween, we will bring you Her Kind, and hopefully the author Niamh Boyce, for another bumper Book Club, to explore the fascinating Kilkenny/Flanders connection. Dermot Bolger will be here in mid-November for a Book Club discussion of his latest novel, An Ark of Light. And we will conclude in December with the long-promised Travelling in a Strange Land, by David Park, who has recently won the 2019 Kerry Group Irish Novel of the Year at the 49th Listowel Writer's Week.

Inspired by the Dubray Books “Reading Irish Women Challenge”, we are designating next year our “Vision2020 - The Year of Reading Irish Women” and we are currently selecting 8 reads from various genres including historical fiction, dystopian, crime and humour. In 2021, we will return to alternating between men and women writers once again.


You may have seen from our twitter that I recently visited Bruges library to meet the librarian who had nominated the eventual overall winner of the Dublin International Literary Prize. While the winning novel, IDAHO, was not written by an Irish writer on this occasion (Mike McCormack won it last year) there was a lot of interest in Ireland in the story behind the Bruges librarian and how she made her choice, as she was the sole librarian out of over 400 to nominate that book which would not have reached the shortlist otherwise - and I will be delighted to bring that story to you in my next report! I gave her lots of Irish books to read on her summer holidays but rest assured she is already a big fan of Irish writers like John Banville, Colm Toibin, Anna Burns, and many others and she had already sent in her nomination for the Dublin literary award for next time, so no there was no pressure from me!

Happy Summer and Happy Reading! And if you are reading Irish writing this summer, why not share your choices, photos and reviews with us on twitter using the hashtag #embassybrusselsbookclub.


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