Behind the Books, Book reviews and recommendations

Kildare Readers Festival 2020 Online

By Catherine Walsh, Maynooth Library

The 11th Kildare Readers Festival took place online from 12-18 October 2020.  This annual autumn celebration of literature connects readers with authors and artists through a programme devised by staff working in the library and arts service. For a limited time, the 2020 events are available to watch on the Kildare Library Service Vimeo channel, accessible through the KRF website: perfect viewing as we stay at home and the days shorten.

Opening the festival, Irish Times’ features writer Patrick Freyne meets ‘hack of all trades’ Abie Philbin Bowman, to discuss his formative Kildare upbringing and first book ‘OK, Let’s Do Your Stupid Idea,’ published in September to glowing reviews. Author of the classic children’s book ‘Under the Hawthorn Tree’ Marita Conlon-McKenna talks to Margaret Scott, following the success of her new adult novel, ‘The Hungry Road.’

Alongside established authors, emerging talents discuss their debut publications and what inspires them. Naoise Dolan’s ‘Exciting Times’ is an intelligent and intimate portrayal of modern relationships while community activist Oein DeBhairduin’s ’Why The Moon Travels’ is a retelling of the Irish Traveller folk tales of his childhood and the first of its kind published in Ireland.

The festival introduces the Maynooth University Department of English and Kildare County Council Library and Arts Services writers-in-residence for 2020-2021 as Susan Tomaselli and Dr Nathan O’Donnell, who discuss their work and residency plans.

The writers-in-residence for 2019-2020 mark their departure, with Donegal poet Annemarie Ní Churreáin curating a series of conversations where she talks craft and process with emerging poets, fiction writers and essayists. Sue Rainsford contributes the specially commissioned ‘a lesson in celestial symmetry’ which blends prose and images in a thought-provoking new work. We also meet this year’s awardees of the Dennis O’Driscoll Literary Bursary Award for established and emerging writers and critics in all genres. 

Always inciteful, the Ten Books panel select five books each that they would recommend and why we should give them a try. Donadea-based author Peter Cunningham swaps titles and stories with Rosita Sweetman, whose recent ‘Feminism Backwards’ is part memoir, part documentary of her experience as a founding member of the Irish Women’s Liberation Movement.

The festival concludes with Dermot Bolger in a relaxed conversation with award-winning author Christine Dwyer Hickey. Her latest book Tatty is the UNESCO Dublin One City, One Book choice for 2020.

To help us shape future festivals, we would appreciate if you could take the time to give us some feedback on the events you attended at this year’s Kildare Readers Festival through this short survey.

Many of the authors featured in this year’s festival have ebooks or audiobooks on Bolinda Borrowbox . Prefer a physical copy? Feel free to request it online from your local library here.

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