Heaney and O’Brien head impressive list as Cuirt 2013 promises to be best ever
By Kernan Andrews
Edna O’Brien, Seamus Heaney, and Michael Longley, three of the titans of contemporary Irish literature, are coming to Galway for the 2013 Cúirt International Festival of Literature from April 23 to 28.
The festival will be officially launched on Tuesday March 12 at 6pm in the House Hotel and feature leading Irish and international writers, as well as people involved in graphic novels and special effects works. There will also be a gathering of Irish and Scandinavian crime writers; launches of new books; and events celebrating Galway writers.
Who and what is on
The festival begins with a new EU cultural initiative: The Crossroads of European Literature, which will see Cúirt join forces with literary festivals in Slovenia and Italy.
There will be an official launch of the project in City Hall, followed by a literary outing to Moran’s of the Weir where there will be readings from poet Colm Breathnach, Bulgaria’s Rumen Leonidov, and Italy’s Davide Rondoni. In the evening, a seminar takes place in the Slate Room at Busker Browne’s chaired by Vilenica Literary Festival director, Gasper Troha.
Cúirt will officially open on Wednesday April 24 with Irish Nobel Laureate Seamus Heaney and poet Michael Longley - two of the greatest poets to emerge from Ireland in the last 50 years. There will be a pre opening event in Hotel Meyrick with Uachtarán na hÉireann Michael D Higgins.
Edna O’Brien will give a retrospective interview with Vincent Woods while the TS Eliot Prize winning American poet Sharon Olds makes her Cúirt debut on Friday 26 at 8.30pm.
Also coming is French writer Laurent Binet (Thursday April 25, 1pm), author of the acclaimed novel HHhH, a work which blurs the line between fiction and history, centred as it is upon the assassination of the notorious Nazi, the ‘blond beast’, Reinhard Heydrich, in Prague in 1942.
Award-winning Belfast playwright Lucy Caldwell and Indian poet, novelist, journalist, and dancer Tishani Doshi will discuss issues of childhood, place, familial relationships, religion, and culture in their work with Galway city arts officer James C Harrold on Friday 26 at 1pm.
Ron Rash (reading Saturday 27 at 8.30pm) is an acclaimed novelist and short story writer from the Southern States of the USA, whose work has been compared to Flannery O’Connor and John Steinbeck. His most recent story collection, Burning Bright, won the 2010 Frank O’Connor International Short Story Award and his novel, Serena, was a New York Times Bestseller.
Although a respected branch of literature in the USA and France (its originators were Edgar Allan Poe and Sir Arthur Conan Doyle), crime fiction is looked down on in Ireland and Britain as populist entertainment. Cúirt will tackle these presumptions in the Random House Crime Panel on Saturday 27 at 6.30pm in the Town Hall Theatre.
Stuart Neville’s debut novel, The Twelve, won the mystery/thriller category of the Los Angeles Times book prize. His new novel, Ratlines, based on Nazi’s hiding in Ireland in the 1960s, features then minister for justice and future Taoiseach Charles Haughey as one of the book’s character.s
Award-winning Swedish crime novelist Arne Dahl is author of The Blinded Man, his first book in the internationally acclaimed Intercrime series. The second book in the series, Bad Blood, will by published this year.
Antti Tuomainen made his literary debut in 2007. His third novel, The Healer, won the Clue Award for Best Finnish Crime Novel 2011. He has been praised for breaking new ground in Scandinavian crime-fiction.
The chair for the event will be Arlene Hunt, author of seven crime fiction novels, five of which feature the popular Quick Investigation duo, John Quigley and Sarah Kenny.
The remaining participating writers are Sheila Heti, Claire Keegan, Paula Meehan, Tiffany Atkinson, Matthew Sweeney, Leanne O’Sullivan, Priscila Uppal, AM Homes, John McAuliffe, Dermot Healy, Kerry Hardie, Ben Marcus, Keith Ridgway, Mary Costello, Michael Harding, Cathal Poirtéir, William J Smyth, and Trish Forde of An Spidéal based publishers Futa Fata.
Events for young people
A new addition to the festival is the Cúirt Labs: a conference for young people. The labs will be located in Galway Arts Centre on Dominick Street and take place over three days. The first two days of the labs will cater for primary school level and the second day will be dedicated to young people from second level education.
Participants will take part in a course of sessions given by practitioners from different creative disciplines.
Taking part will be special effects expert Kate Walshe who has produced effects for Doctor Who, Iron Maiden, and Lady Gaga. Will Sliney a graphic novelist from Cork, who has worked with Marvel and has a book forthcoming with O’Brien Press: Celtic Warrior: The Legend of Cú Chulainn.
Galway authors will be celebrated at Cúirt through a variety of events. There will be a launch of Galway Stories, a collection of short stories, by writers who live, or have lived, in Galway city or county, published by the Galway based Doire Press. The launch will include a literary walk/crawl.
New books by Alan MacMonagle and Aideen Henry, published by Arlen House, which was founded in Galway in 1975, will also take place.
The ever popular Literary Brunch takes place on the Sunday of the festival and will feature readings by Martin Dyar, Celeste Augé, and Michaél O’Conghaile. Mike McCormack and Mary Costello will host the Sunday afternoon fiction event, while The Galway Review literary magazine containing poems, stories, interviews, and reviews by people from all walks of Galway life will be launched.
Full programme details will be available on www.cuirt.ie from March 12. There will also be a festival app which will be available from the Apple Store on the same day as the programme launch.