The Book Show Saturday 22 April 2017

The Book Show

The Book Show

In this special hour long episode Sinéad Gleeson talks to John Boyne and to composer Max Richter. And she looks at the life and writing of Jean Rhys.

The Book Show, 22nd April 2017

This week on The Book Show we have an hour of interviews and features.

Cúirt International Festival of Literature kicks off in Galway this week (23rd - 30th of April) and we speak to some of the writers who will be taking part.

John Boyne's latest novel The Heart's Invisible Furies tells the story of Cyril Avery from his birth in 1945 to the Marriage Referendum of 2015. Cyril is gay and his life spans some of the darkest and brightest moments in Ireland's modern history. Sinéad Gleeson discusses the novel with John and hears how the referendum campaign in 2015 led John to the idea for the book.

Simon Armitage is a Yorkshire poet who has recently published a collection of poems called The Unaccompanied. Written over the past 11 years or so, he tells The Book Show how they inadvertently reflect on much of the shifting ground in English society – a result of nationalism, globalization, the death of traditional industry and immigration. The poems also revisit Simon's home town in a Yorkshire village and the areas around it where he spent time as a child.

Sinéad speaks to British writer Linda Grant about the life and work of Jean Rhys (1890 – 1979). She is the Dominican born author of many stories and novels set in England, Paris and the Caribbean. They are stories of women who struggle with poverty, alienation, alcoholism and their reliance on (often uncaring) men. Writer Colm O'Shea looks at Rhys' most famous novel Wide Sargasso Seaa 'prequel' to Jane Eyre – and discusses the world of bedsits and hotels her characters inhabit. We also hear readings of Rhys' work by the actress Donna Anita Nikolaisen.

Alan McMonagle's debut novel, Ithaca, is set in small town Ireland but as the title suggests, his characters dream of places far away from the boarded up shops and rundown streets of where they actually live. It's the story of the troubled Jason Lowry, who is 11 years old, and his mother, Jacinta. It's also the story of Jason's friendship with an unnamed girl his own age who shares her fantasies of ancient Greece, Egypt and the Ithaca of the title. Alan joins Sinéad in studio to talk about the book.

Finally, Ross Raisin tells Sinéad about his latest novel, A Natural, which is set in the world of professional football and is the story of Tom Pearman, a young footballer, and his struggle to deal with his sexuality. Ross discusses homophobia in the world of professional football and describes the life of the young footballers as they move from football grounds to hotels and digs – carrying with them the intense focus on their game as well as the dreams of wealth and stardom.

John Boyne, Simon Armitage, Alan McMonagle and Ross Raisin will all be reading at Cúirt and details of that festival are at

Sinéad & John Boyne

Jean Rhys - The Collected Short Stories

Ithaca by Alan McMonagle

Pencils, Cúirt





The Book Show, Saturday 22nd April

In this special hour long episode Sinéad Gleeson talks to John Boyne and to composer Max Richter. And she looks at the life and writing of Jean Rhys.

'Dear Character' Competition Update

Thanks to everyone who has sent a letter to a character as part of our Dear Character competition. We have been delighted by the response and have drawn up a shortlist of letters which we have sent to our judge, the Laureate for Irish Fiction, Anne Enright.

She will choose a winning letter and this will be read at our special episode which will be recorded in Smock Alley theatre in Dublin on October 21st 2017.

The winning entry will also win a €250 book token.

At our Smock Alley show we will be reading excerpts from some of the letters. The winning letter will be published online on our RTÉ web page after the broadcast.

Sinéad Gleeson will be in conversation with Lisa McInerney, Anne Enright and Paul Howard. We’ll have music by singer Lisa O’Neill and readings from some of our letters to characters by actors Derbhle Crotty and Dermot Magennis.

The show is now sold out but it will be broadcast on RTÉ Radio 1 on Saturday October 28th, 7-8pm.

A full list of those writers whose letters have been shortlisted is below - congratulations to all:

Character: Anna Livia Plurabelle 
Writer: Holly Furey
From: Finnegans Wake by James Joyce

Character: Auggie Pullman
Writer: Keeva Holloway
From: Wonder by RJ Palacio

Character: Anna Arkadyevna Karenina
Writer: Lev Nikolayevich (Eoin Shaughnessy)
From: Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy

Character: Bobby Mahon
Writer: Rebecca Ivory
From: The Spinning Heart by Donal Ryan

Character: Captain Ahab
Writer: Stephen Phelan
From: Moby-Dick by Herman Melville

Character: George Smiley
Writer: Karen McCormack
From: Various George Smiley novels by John LeCarré

Character: Gregor Samsa 
Writer: Bernard Mahon 
From: Metamorphosis by Franz Kafka

Character: Holden Caulfield
Writer: Aoife Kavanagh
From: The Catcher in the Rye by J. D. Salinger

Character: June
Writer: Anita Fennelly
From: The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood

Character:  Mr. Toad 
Writer: Liam Cahill; 
From: The Wind in the Willows by Kenneth Grahame

Character: Nora Webster, 
Writer: Shelley Tracey, 
From: Nora Webster by Colm Toibin

Character: Raskolnikov
Writer: Sylvia (AKA- Mark Dennehy)
From: Crime And Punishment by Fyodor Dostoyevsky

Character: Robinson Crusoe
Writer: Klara Golez
From: Robinson Crusoe by Daniel Defoe

Character: Rosaleen Madigan 
Writer: Marion O’Donnell (Miriam Hurley)
From: The Green Road by Anne Enright

Character: ‘She’
Writer: Papa (Stephen Wade)
From: The Road by Cormac McCarthy

Character: Voldemort
Writer: Claudia Rose-Mohan
From: Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix by JK Rowling

The Book Show

Presented by Sinead Gleeson, The Book Show is where we get to know a bit more about the books you love and talk about what you could be reading over the next few months.

Writers and publishers will talk stories, books and the world of writing and we’ll have readings, reports and regular items. The Book Show will bring you the best in international and Irish authors, with weekly discussions, interviews, features and literary trivia.

If there’s anything you’d like to hear covered on the show or have any comments to make, why not get in touch and you’ll find us on twitter @bookshowrte and on Facebook.

Sinead Gleeson Photo credit: Annie Atkins



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Presenter: Sinead Gleeson


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