Lovely responses my essay ‘Sixteen’ on RTÉ Radio 1 last night – a rare occasion where I read something myself. Covering education, the Troubles, escaping into the arts, the arts and class, sexuality and returning home.
The essay is from the anthology ‘Impermanence’ commissioned by Centre Culturel Irlandais, and edited by Nora Hickey M’Sichili & Neil Hegarty published by No Alibis Press. Recordings beautifully produced by Cliodhna Ni Anluain.
My essay Sixteen, commissioned by editors Neil Hergarty and Nora Hickey M’Sichili for the Centre Culturel Irelandais, in Paris.
“Novelist Paul McVeigh, author of The Good Son, recalls what it was like to grow up in Belfast during the Troubles as he came to realise he was attracted to both boys and girls, a state of affairs which, he notes with admirable understatement, “made life difficult for me”.
The liminal spaces here are sexual. “I was one way, I was the other. I was both. Now, mostly, I am neither.”
McVeigh unpicks too his attempts to navigate class divisions, another subject that is too little explored in writing about the North, where sectarian divides loom larger. The point is that nothing is ever entirely one thing or another. It’s both. It’s neither. It’s something else entirely.” Writes Eilis O’Hanlon in the Irish Independent.
“Paul McVeigh suggests a vocabulary for this molecular disruption in his experience as a young person from the Ardoyne discovering himself, and others, in the Ulster Youth Theatre. “Everything I am now is made from some dust of then,” he writes, an ash that falls on many of the essays.” Nicolas Allen writes in The Irish Times.
“Paul McVeigh has written a first novel of beautiful generosity, poignant in the delicate manner in which he evokes the brutality of an era. A striking fresco, mixing historical upheavals and hardships of a family shattered.” Le Monde