Author Peter Cunningham
Kilkenny International Literary Festival presents two Irish authors writing about families, love, loss and life.
Belfast-born Michèle Forbes is ‘a writer who is not afraid to address the so-called ordinary lives of real human beings.’ according to the acclaimed literary creative, John Banville.
Her first novel ‘Ghost Moth’ was shortlisted for Newcomer Of The Year at the Irish Book Awards and for First Book Award at the Edinburgh International Book Festival. Her short stories have received both the Bryan MacMahon and the Michael McLaverty Awards. Her second novel 'Edith & Oliver' was chosen as a Sunday Times Book of the Year.
Asked how she made the leap to from acting to writing Michèle says: “As an actor one can sometimes feel creatively underused. I wanted to challenge that in myself and to see if I had a voice - a singular energy as opposed to the collaborative voice which fuels theatre, and to see if that voice would stand up on its own. That was really important to me.”
And does being a script reader and actor help in your own writing? “Reading scripts (and novels) has helped me appreciate the structure of a narrative and the dramatic arc of a story. I ask the same questions of my characters that I would ask if I was performing them myself, questions about motivation, choice, the ‘whys’ and ‘what ifs’ of a character.”
Peter Cunningham is an award-winning Irish novelist and newspaper columnist from Waterford. His first thriller, ‘Noble Lord’ was released in 1986. He is best known for his widely acclaimed historical novels, beginning with ‘Tapes of the River Delta’. ‘Consequences of the Heart’ was shortlisted for the Listowel Writer’s Prize; ‘The Sea and the Silence’ won the prestigious Prix de l’Europe. 'The Taoiseach' was a controversial bestseller, whilst ‘Capital Sins’, for which Cunningham was described by the Irish Times newspaper as ‘the Hemmingway of the Celtic Tiger’, was a satire set in the Irish economic meltdown. 'The Trout' is his most recent novel. He is a member of Aosdána.
In her second novel, Edith and Oliver, which was selected for the Sunday Times Book of the Year, Forbes tells the colourful story of life on the music hall circuit, a week here and a week there, the sights and sounds as well as the smells (especially, Mrs Earwaker - like a Joycean Dublin character - standing at the foot of the stairs with a steaming chamber pot) Edith loves Oliver and she has a career as a pianist in the pit as an accompanist. She is not initially, dependant on a man for bed or board.
Oliver is a more complex character - an illusionist, but perhaps, more a ‘delusionist’ who fails to see or doesn't want to see the changes around him before and after the First World War.
His descent into despair and depression reveals family secrets and his uneasy relationship with his father. This oppressive secrecy continues into his relationships with his children, especially a beautiful daughter who cannot or will not speak (but does talk to her young brother).”
Meanwhile Peter Cunningham, who has an impressive fourteen novels under his literary belt. Peter will read from his most recent novels, The Trout and Acts of Allegiance. Both novels, in different ways, take an unflinching look at the often fatal bond between Irish fathers and their sons. “Some sons survive the relationship, but many don’t,’ Cunningham says. ‘Dad casts a very long shadow.”
In these lyrical and gripping stories, set in contemporary Ireland, fathers ruin the very lives they seek to protect. The blindness of religion and politics, tradition and class is confronted as sons try to work out the legacy of the past. “We all love Dad,” Cunningham says, “but there finally comes a time when we have to say goodbye.”
The Trout and Acts of Allegiance have been published to critical acclaim in Ireland, France, the UK and the USA.
Moderator for this special event is Martin Bridgeman, a voice and personality much known and loved in Kilkenny. For more information or to buy tickets (from €12) for this event go to the venue website: https://pembrokekilkenny
kilfest-aug-4 This event is part of AKA Fringe and is supported by the host venue.