The Lit Review |23|Günter Grass Dies at 87

Günter Grass dies at 87

Günter Grass, novelist, social commentator and Nobel Prize-winning author has died at 87. His award-winning work, The Tin Drum, written in 1959, was hailed as hugely inventive and made into an Oscar-winning film in 1979. Days before the release of his memoir, Peeling the Onion, the author revealed he had been a member of the Waffen-SS which had perpetrated horrific crimes during the Second World War. ‘[I]t was a weight on me… My silence over the years is one of the reasons I wrote the book.’ Although conscripted into the SS in 1944 he was never accused of atrocities. Grass was a vocal opponent of German reunification stating: ‘[the] people responsible for the Holocaust had forfeited the right to live together in one nation.’ An evocative and daring social critic, the writer has been credited with helping in the recovery of German culture: ‘I have always considered myself a writer and a citizen.’ Read more of his life here.


The Youth Are At It Again

Joseph O’Connor has remarked on the originality and ambition of young Irish writers. Speaking at his inaugural lecture as the Frank McCourt Chair of Creative Writing and Director of the MA in Creative Writing at UL, O’Connor commended the high calibre of applications that stream into the University each year. ‘Young Irish writers are so hard working, they are much more focussed on having a career than my generation of writers would have been when we were in our twenties.’


Literature Inspired Art Trail

In conjunction with Cúirt International Festival of Literature, Artists in Galway have been asked to create and display art inspired by a poem, a novel or song lyrics. The pieces will be nestled in fifty locations about town, winding their way around the windows of the Latin Quarter and ending at the Tigh Neachtain pub, who have sponsored the event.


More Irish Writers are Self-Publishing

Self-publishing in Ireland is on the increase, with e-books now widely available. The process has been made cheaper and easier for those who want to have their stories heard. Until now, many considered self-publishing to be suitable only for books which were not ‘worthy’ of being traditionally published, but self-publishing her cookbook, Back to Basics, gave author Marie Donnellan full control over the publication process. She went on to sell a thousand copies of the book, in e-book format, at €10 apiece, €7 of which was donated to the Rape Crisis Centre.  Many others are also choosing the DIY route. If you have a story to tell but are strapped for cash and are a bit of a control freak then this could be the option for you. You can learn more here.



The Irish Review Celebrates its fiftieth Issue

Edna Longley, former editor of The Irish Review, reflects on the journal’s story so far in her article for the Irish Times. Cork University Press has just published the Review’s fiftieth issue, dedicated to Seamus Heaney, who would have celebrated his 76th birthday this week. Longley refers to the journal reflecting a ‘cultural crossroads’ for literature, politics, history and culture (sounds a bit like a website we might all be familiar with) and how it has ‘played its part in the culture war’, which included publishing the landmark essay ‘The Floozy in the Jacuzzi’ by Ailbhe Smyth. Longley writes how the Review ‘aimed to establish a north-south axis… no journal at the time could avoid being a forum for Trouble inspired “condition of Ireland” writings.’ She goes on to say the journal was founded with the aim of being critical and she says ‘Indeed, its critical thrust shows how thoroughly alive Seamus Heaney’s poetry is.’ If you want to explore the latest issue and its ‘critical thrust’ you can purchase a copy here.


Books and E-Books


According to this article, despite the continued growth of e-books, the decline in print has stagnated. Apparently Millennials, the generation of people seen to be inseparable from their computer screens, still see great value in reading paperbacks. Interestingly, when teenage Vlogger and internet sensation Zoe Sugg decided to publish fiction, she opted to work with Penguin, who published her book both in hardback and e-book formats. Bookshop shelves are still lined with beautifully produced books. Cathy Rentzenbrink, a former Project Director of the Literacy Charity Quick Reads, commented on how books are now seen as luxury items: ‘Print has become the luxury model… There is almost a festishisation of the print book.’ Despite this, some publishers have their eye on e-books only. Canelo Publishing, for instance, aims to bring the quality and attention to detail of traditional publishing and tailor this to the digital book: ‘The e-book is too often an afterthought: we want our e-books to be beautiful.’


Donal Ryan wins European Union Prize for Literature at London Book Fair

Irish writer Donal Ryan has won the European Union Prize for his novel The Spinning Heart, which captures the impact of the financial crisis on a small rural town. Winners are also given the opportunity to apply for funding to have their books translated into different languages.


Baileys Women’s Prize Shortlist Chosen

The shortlist for the Baileys Women’s Prize has been announced with six candidates in the running for the title. Debut novel The Bees by Laline Paull set in a beehive and dubbed ‘the Animal Farm of the 21st century’ has been chosen as well as the multiple award-winning How to be Both by Ali Smith and The Paying Guests by Sarah Waters. Rachel Cusk has been chosen for Outline as well as Kamila Shamsie’s A God in Every Stone and finally Anne Tyler for A Spool of Blue Thread.


Impac Dublin Literary Award



Ten international writers have made the shortlist for the Impac Dublin Literary Award. With a prize fund of €100,000, the award is the most lucrative in the world. Libraries around the world nominate titles for the Impac, and this year the shortlist features some previous award winners such as Man Booker winner Richard Flanagan, who is pitted against fellow Australian Hannah Kent for her book, Burial Rites. Irish writer Colum McCann was chosen for TransAtlantic and British author Jim Crace for his booker short-listed novel Harvest. Three novels in translation also made the list this year. You can find the full list here. The panel will announce their winner on June 17th.


Call to Bloggers

The International Literature Festival Dublin is calling for guest blogs from open minded bloggers who are interested in discussion and debate. If you love debating and blogging then email your expression of interest to [email protected].


Lingo Festival



Lingo Spoken Word Festival also wants to hear from you. Whether you want to send in an individual submission, design and host your own event or premiere a piece of work fresh off the press, they want to hear from you. Take a look at the open submissions details here.


Greenhouse Funny Prize 2015

And one final call for you talented folk. Do you have a hilarious children’s book up your sleeve? Well then get it out of there and send it to Greenhouse Literary Agency. They are looking for something to make them smile. So no adaptations of The Tin Drum please and thanks.


Highlighting Irish Children’s Books

The National Collection of Children’s Books is hosting a symposium today In Trinity College, Dublin. The two-year research project has been picking its way through an extensive list of children’s books in libraries around Dublin, with two primary aims: to develop a cohesive catalogue of children’s books, and to highlight the most significant of these collections in order to encourage the development of the profile of Irish children’s literature.