Niamh Campbell was born in 1988 and grew up in Dublin. Her short fiction and essays have appeared in The Dublin Review, 3:AM, Banshee, gorse, Five Dials, and Tangerine. She was awarded a Next Generation literary bursary from the Arts Council of Ireland, and annual literary bursaries in 2018 and 2019. She holds a PhD in English from King’s College London and is a current postdoctoral fellow for the Arts Council of Ireland at Maynooth University. Her debut novel This Happy was published by Weidenfeld and Nicolson in 2020. She was the winner of the 2020 Sunday Times Audible Short Story Award. She lives and works in Dublin.
Kit de Wall was born in Birmingham to an Irish mother, who was a childminder and foster carer and a Caribbean father. She worked for fifteen years in criminal and family law, was a magistrate for several years and sits on adoption panels. She used to advise Social Services on the care of foster children, and has written training manuals on adoption, foster care and judgecraft for members of the judiciary. Her writing has received numerous awards including the Bridport Flash Fiction Prize 2014 and 2015 and the SI Leeds Literary Reader’s Choice Prize 2014 and the Kerry Group Irish Novel of the Year. MY NAME IS LEON, her first novel was published in 2016 and shortlisted for the Costa Book Award. She has two children and lives in the West Midlands.
Paul McVeigh has written comedy, essays, flash fiction, a novel, plays and short stories, and his work has been performed on radio, stage and television, and published in seven languages. The Good Son is his first novel.
To Garth Greenwell, the huge international success of his debut What Belongs to You, “was the biggest surprise of my life”, and he feels “immensely lucky” as “the success of a book has as much to do with chance as anything else”. Its success has allowed him to have a career as a writer and teacher in a way he wasn’t able to in his previous 20 years of writing. He feels relieved, though, that the writing process itself, “the struggle”, just him alone with his notebook and “the pit of doubt and despair”, hasn’t changed. “I wouldn’t know who I would be without it.”
You can read my interview with him about his new novel, Cleanness, in The Irish Times.
I’m excited to be heading to Qatar soon for JLF Doha. Here are my events at the Qatar National Library.
Fri 13th, 6:20 PM TO 7:05 PM, SPECIAL EVENT AREA
Writing Conflict: Paul McVeigh, Ahmad Dallal, and Prayaag Akbar in conversation
In a world fraught with conflict, eminent writers speak of how they make sense of the disturbances and dystopias around us. Prayaag Akbar’s award-winning novel Leila, adapted into a popular Netflix series, addresses the ongoing conflicts in society. Paul McVeigh’s debut novel, The Good Son, tells the story of the Irish Troubles in turbulent Belfast. Writer and academic Ahmed Dallal has examined the conflicts of the Middle East.
2:55 PM TO 3:40 PM AUDITORIUM
What is Not Said: Celebrating the Short Story: Alex Shaw, Kaltam Jabor M. Al-kuwari and Paul McVeigh in conversation
The brevity of short fiction, illuminating transformative moments in life, eliminating all that is unnecessary, takes it to the heart of the reader. A session which investigates and celebrates the form and function of the short story. Conversations and contextual readings featuring Alex Shaw, author of the popular Aidan Snow SAS series, Kaltam Jabor M. Al-kuwari, the first Qatari women to author a collection of short stories, and Paul McVeigh, author of The Good Son and director and co-founder of London Short Story Festival, Paul McVeigh.
‘We invited Salt authors Alison Moore and Paul McVeigh to discuss how they managed writing life post-publication.’
I’ve met Alison a number of times over the last few years and she is one of the loveliest people you could meet. It was amazing then that we ended up with the same publisher. Salt asked us to have a chat about ‘finding the balance’.
You can read the conversation on Salt’s website here.
A Panel Discussion With Roddy Doyle, John Boyne & Kit De Waal Chaired By Paul McVeigh
Do fiction writers have a responsibility to engage with politics? The line between fiction and nonfiction is constantly blurred, especially in the post-truth climate of today. Fiction reflects the world around us, and the world around us at this particular moment in time is in crisis: politically, socially and culturally.
And so, in this tumultuous political climate, this panel will raise, and attempt to answer questions such as, whether fiction writers hold a responsibility to engage with and write about politics?; whether fiction can affect politics?; and whether all fiction is political?
Making up stories is an inherently political act, but that doesn’t mean that the stories are about politics. Does fiction have the ability to change minds? Come and enter into the conversation with these four writers as they discuss and shed light upon a question of pressing importance.
Kit de Waal and Anne Griffin will be in conversation with me.
“The Trick to Time is Kit de Waal’s second novel, taking place during the IRA pub bombings in Birmingham in 1974. Born in Birmingham to an Irish mother and an African-Caribbean father, de Waal began her writing career at the age of 45, after leaving school at 15. Seeking to address the under-representation of working-class voices in the arts, de Waal has established a creative writing scholarship.
Anne Griffin has worked with various charities following completion of a postgraduate diploma in Youth and Community Work. A recipient of the John McGahern Award for Literature, Griffin’s debut novel is When All Is Said. The protagonist is 84-year-old Maurice, who sits at a bar and toasts five individuals who have most profoundly impacted on his life in five internal monologues.
7.30pm: Join us for a pre-event whiskey tasting event from Master of Malt and discover the wonderful world of Irish whiskey through the distilleries while remembering the characters beautifully brought to life in Anne Griffin’s poignant bestselling novel, When All Is Said. Whiskies from Midleton and Bushmills showcase the incredible spectrum of flavours found in Ireland’s favourite drink and reflected in the toasts raised by character Maurice Hannigan to his loved ones in When All Is Said.”