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Embassy Book Club: Message from Ambassador Nolan #VisibleWomen2020

Embassy Book Club: Message from Ambassador Nolan #VisibleWomen2020

Dear Friends, Book Clubbers, Book Lovers & Friends of Irish Writing,

Thank you for all your interest and support for great Irish writing in 2019, including our author events and our annual Christmas Celebration of Irish Books which was once again a big hit at our partner bookshop, Waterstones (don’t forget the 10% Discount for Embassy Book Club members).

I’m delighted to share with you all our exciting Embassy Book Club plans and reading list for 2020.

2020 is a very special year; it is the 20th anniversary of the UN Security Council Resolution 1325 on Women, Peace and Security; it is also the 25th Anniversary of the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action on gender equality and the empowerment of all women.

Inspired by these significant historic perspectives as well as by the recent Dubray Books Reading Irish Women Challenge, we have decided to switch from our usual practice of alternating between male and female contemporary Irish authors and instead to focus on Irish women writers, in a range of genres, for the year ahead.

This will be part of our broader #VisibleWomen2020 thematic approach for St Brigid’s Day next year, when we will celebrate female creativity in entrepreneurship and design, with a very exciting programme planned for the evening of Tuesday 4 February in BOZAR – be sure to save the date.

We will kick off our first Book Club on 22 January with a mythological re-telling – “The Years that Followed” by Catherine Dunne, who will join us for a very special Book Club author event. Catherine has written ten best-selling novels, popular throughout Europe, and was famously referenced by the ex-wife of an Italian political leader who remarked that she felt like a character in a Catherine Dunne novel - I ask if, like the Catherine Dunne character, I have to regard myself as “half of nothing”. Please register here to attend the author event.

This will be followed by atmospheric and pacey historical detective fiction, “Things In Jars”, the third remarkable book by Jess Kidd, appropriate for February as the feisty heroine is named Bridie! “If there was an Oscar ceremony for books, then Jess Kidd’s Victorian mystery Things in Jars would surely sweep the board. The book’s heroine, Bridie Devine, is a shoo-in for Best Female Character in a Leading Role. A detective with a talent for reading corpses in a London awash with the freshly murdered, Bridie is rumoured to wear a dagger strapped to her thigh, smokes a pipe and is captain of herself, we are told” (Irish Times)

As usual, we will take a book club break in March, to allow us to focus on our extensive St Patrick’s Day programme.

We will return in April to read the hotly anticipated thriller, The Guest List, from latest Brussels resident and author of number one bestseller The Hunting Party, Lucy Foley, whom you may have met signing books at our Waterstones Christmas event.

May will bring us to “Tatty” by renowned author Christine Dwyer Hickey, the Dublin UNESCO City of Literature “One City One Book” choice for 2020 and we look forward to partnering with them to make this Two Cities One Book, as we did with the anthology “The Long Gaze Back” in 2018.

In June, we will be reading what promises to be a beautiful new novel by Mary Costello, “The River Capture”. Our pioneer book club members will remember that the very first book we read was Costello’s evocative and poignant Academy Street and in this Bloomsday month it will be a special pleasure to read her new novel, which has an homage to Joyce.

We normally take a summer break from book clubbing in July & August but next year we plan to share a Summer Reading List, just for fun, and will be inviting you to share your own summer reading lists, with a prize draw for contributors.

We will be back in the Autumn with four more book clubs featuring: the new novel “Akin”, from the brilliant Emma Donohue, a very special book called “The Flight of the Wren” by Orla McAlinden, whom we hope will join us in Brussels to read, another new novel, from former Laureate and Nobel winner Anne Enright titled “The Actress” and last but most certainly not least, a treat from one of our most beloved writers, new novel, “Grown Ups” by Marian Keyes.

The bookish team at Embassy Brussels look forward to welcoming you at our events in 2020. We will continue to live tweet from our book club sessions and encourage you to join in the conversation with @IrishEmbBelgium using #EmbassyBookClub.

We hope to continue to partner with Waterstones and with Passaporta on a wide range of literary events, as well as an exciting new literary venture with Bruges Library on 7 and 8 March. We are also plotting a new partnership to potentially deliver a winter festival of crime fiction.

Finally, news of our book exploits is spreading and perhaps our Embassy Book Club may even feature on Irish Radio next year…watch this space…

Happy Christmas, hope you get lots of book presents and have a great, book-filled New Year! Be sure to come along to our events next year or tweet to tell us all about your favourite Christmas holiday reads.

Helena Nolan

Ambassador of Ireland

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