Kilkenny Arts Festival: Balkans the topic of Hubert Butler lecture

History, music, poetry and the best in contemporary fiction are the focus of the LITERATURE strand in this year’s programme.

History, music, poetry and the best in contemporary fiction are the focus of the LITERATURE strand in this year’s programme.

Two events, chaired by Colm Tóibín, examine the works of two great writers who have influenced both his life and work: John McGahern and Anthony Cronin. McGahern’s life and work with be discussed by his biographer, Dennis Sampson and esteemed critic Anne Fogarty. Anthony Cronin’s event combines poetry and music with the premiere of his long poem ‘RMS Titanic’, arranged for music by Dónal Lunny.

The music theme is taken up later in the week with a reading by Waterboys front man Mike Scott from his lyrical new memoir. The seismic events of Home Rule and The War of Independence will be discussed and fought over during the week by Diarmaid Ferriter and Eunan O’Halpin – among others – under the supervision of Catriona Crowe, and Misha Glenny will take a timely look back at the Siege of Sarajevo 20 years after it began.

Poetry is represented by a reading from Paul Durcan and a showcase of Gallery Press poets. Contemporary fiction is represented by Australian Elliot Perlman, US author Greg Baxter and, from Ireland, Claire Kilroy and long-time festival favourite John Banville. Debut authors John Butler and Liza Klaussmann will present their very different fictional versions of America and Eileen Battersby will try to tease out the fundamental relationship between reading, writing and criticism.