Four on Friday: Strumpet City, Helen Seymour, Gavin Corbett and the cover of a new Irish short story collection

town-and-country-faber-cover-kevin-barryThe latest round-up of Irish writing related stuff-that-caught-the-eye from around the interweb.

Strumpet City , written by James Plunkett in 1969 and adapted in a memorable RTÉ television series in 1980, is the choice for this year’s “One City One Book” selection in April.

Set in Dublin between the years 1907 and 1914, and covering one of the most important events in Irish social history, the 1913 Lockout, Strumpet City is the subject of an attractive new edition published by Gill & Macmillan with a new foreword written by Irish Times columnist Fintan O’Toole.

Myles Dungan’s “The History Show” on RTÉ Radio 1 asked whether Strumpet City is Ireland’s greatest historical novel – a category in which may not exactly be overburdened with competition.

Dungan was joined in studio by oral historian Mary Muldowney, Enda Leaney of Dublin City Libraries, and historian and journalist Padraig Yeates, the author of Lockout: Dublin 1913.

Listen to the discussion here, and find out all about April’s “One City One Book” festival events here.

Recently established online culture and literature magazine The Hairy Dog Review carried an in-depth essay on This Is The Way, the new novel by Irish writer Gavin Corbett. This Is The Way received an overall thumbs-up from Kevin Barry in the Guardian a week or two ago, and The Hairy Dog Review’s founding editor Brian Howton also seems to be positively disposed (although Howton’s review is short on a concrete assessment, which I can’t really decide is a good or a bad thing):

This Is The Way is a novel about youth not simply because Gavin Corbett is a young writer or because the narrator is a young man. And it is a novel about youth despite the fact that so much of the story is set in the past. It is a novel about youth because the tension of it is derived from the separation that Anthony feels between his background, his family and his education, and the person that he wants to become. It is a novel of Anthony’s struggle to identify with a world that he resents.

Read the full essay here or visit the 4th Estate website for more on This Is The Way.

As an aside, there’s also a review of This Is The Way in the latest edition of the New Statesman magazine. Claire Lowdon wrote:

This fresh and funny novel is a devastating love story … that stays with you long after you’ve finished reading.

(No link. Article available to New Statesman subscribers.)

Helen Seymour’s Beautiful Noise was launched in Dublin last month (Bono chipped in) and it’s been burning away nice and steadily (I noticed it was the Book of the … Week? Month? in Hodges Figgis over the past few days)

Here’s a sort-of-review by Canada-based, Irish-yearning blogger CurlyQ.

I realized I was reading the book so fast that it was going to be over in a day or two so I stopped. Because I don’t want to miss Iris and Elliott and Squirrel and his nutty uncle Eamo. I like being a fly on the wall of their fictional lives. It’s been a while since I’ve read a book that did that to me.

Julian Gough started a lively Twitter discussion this week by publishing the cover of a new collection of Irish short stories to be published by Faber this year.

Town and Country: New Irish Short Stories, edited by Kevin Barry, is slated to be available in June, and while I’m not sure whether Gough was putting this into the public domain for the first time, the fact that there is as yet no cover on the book’s Amazon page would suggest this is one of its first appearances in public.

Berlin-based Gough, himself part of the Faber family, asked for people’s initial thoughts, and here’s a selection of responses:

@juliangough “Books To Pee On”. Won’t be picked up “at random” IMHO.

— Paul Sweeney (@Boston2Berlin) March 6, 2013

The book club choice for March

The Light of Amsterdam - David Park

David Parks’ The Light of Amsterdam

David Parks’ The Light of Amsterdam is the choice for the blog’s second ever book club online meet-up, which will take place (at a computer near you) before the end of March.

Our first choice was Mary Costello’s The China Factory, which resulted in a lively online discussion last week.

The Light of Amsterdam was shortlisted for the Eason Irish Novel of the Year award last year, an award eventually won by John Banville’s Ancient Light.

Somewhat discombobulatingly, there’s no Wikipedia entry dedicated to Park, which is a bit mystifying considering the fact that this is his eighth book, and that his previous works include Swallowing the Sun, also shortlisted for Irish Novel of the Year, and Truth Commissioner, winner of the Christopher Ewart-Biggs prize.

In an article about the book from late last year, the Guardian, or rather Guardian writer Ian Sansom, did its best to winch an unbearable burden onto the shoulders of The Light of Amsterdam by describing it as:

Perhaps the first book by a serious Northern Irish novelist that might be described as a genuinely post-Troubles novel

A Google+ Community has been set up for all those interested in joining the club, and there will be announcements over there whenever applicable.

The date of the next online meet-up is likely to be Monday, March 25th at 9pm. If you’d like to get involved, drop me an email at