A brand new selection of titles is coming your way in a new season of The Book on One on RTÉ Radio 1 from Monday 15 October (11.20pm Mon-Friday, during Cathal Murray’s Late Date) and read for your pleasure by the authors a wonderful cast of actors.
In the mix are celebrated classic stories, international and Irish language writing, as well as the best of new fiction and memoir with a current and timeless appeal.
Opening the season, Gary Murphy reads The Joy Ride, from the renowned short story collection The Becker Wives by Mary Lavin, which has recently been reissued by New Island after many years out of print.
Listen to an extract to Joy Ride by Mary Lavin, read by Gary Murphy
With their master away, two butlers - middle-aged Purdy and his youthful accomplice Crickem - goad one another into a day of carefree devilment. The setting for The Joy Ride brings us into the heart of Lavin landscape - the countryside of County Meath. As Christine Dwyer Hickey writes in her introduction to the collection, ‘[it] starts out as a comedy of sorts… the story is a terrific and often hilarious study of male pride. It clips along before delivering us to a dark and twisted end.’
Next up, Ali White reads The Iron Age by Arje Kajermo. Jon McGregor described Kajermo's book as ‘an instant classic’ while Joseph O’Connor said ‘it achieves the alchemy every writer would love to conjure up; it’s somehow about every childhood, every twilit life - a radiantly beautiful book.’
The Iron Age is part a coming of age tale, partly a meditation on what happens to families when a war is over; when the men come home and have to join into their old worlds again, and the women and children who stayed at home need to readjust to the return of their menfolk. As Kajermo writes, ‘It was Finland, it was the 1950s but on our farm it could have been the Iron Age.’
Finnish-born Kajermo is a graphic designer who has lived in Ireland for many years. This story reflects her commanding gift as a cartoonist to immerse us so effectively in a whole world in short, direct language. In 2014, Kajermo was short-listed for the prestigious Davy Byrne Award for her short story The Iron Age, out of which this novel grew.
In November John Connell reads his book The Cow Book: The story of Life on an Irish Farm. The book relates the author's coming home to his family’s farm in Longford, where in exchange for a room in which he can write he will get stuck into a working life on the farm. Alongside the physical grind of hard physical labour, looking out for animals and what the weather and the seasons throw Connell writes beautifully about the role of the cow and its relatives as a companion across millennia.
The book has gained the Connell further literary recognition alongside his short-form writing which has already featured in the Young Irelander collection edited by Dave Loran and the Granta Magazine 2016 edition dedicated to New Irish Writing.
Also in November, The Lady of Deerpark by Seamus O’Kelly (1881-1918) will be read on the Book on One to mark the centenary of the death of the author. Seamus O’Kelly was one of the writers whose developing literary talent was being recognised when he died after being wounded in November 1918, caught up in the turmoil of that volatile period in our history. Told from the point of view of Paul Jennings, the agent of Deerpark, an estate house in the west of Ireland of the 1890s, the book is an ironic elegy for a way of life in decay. It has been hailed as a book of significance in wonderfully capturing the atmosphere of its time.
Oilthireach Pinn le Liam Ó Muirthile is poignantly read by the poet, essayist, playwright, novelist and journalist, who died earlier this year. This pilgrimage of the pen was written by Ó Muirthile following his time spent along The Camino de Santiago. Ó Muirthile brings us with him along the Camino as he explores the nature of the physical route, as well as the metaphor of journeying itself. The walk gave Ó Muirthile an opportunity to consider identity, language and the business of becoming oneself, which he shares with us in his inimitable, questioning and authentic voice.
Ireland has its own direct link to Mary Wollstonecraft, said to be the first person to write about women’s rights and equality, the first feminist writer in the English language - her grandmother was Elizabeth Dixon of Ballyshannon. In December, Book on One will feature her novel Mary: A Fiction (1788), Wollstonecraft’s only completed novel and written when she was a governess in Ireland. An Irish-set story, it tells the tale of a young woman’s romantic love for a man and a woman.
Other titles which will feature on Book On One through the season are Over The Back Yard Wall, the long-awaited memoir by playwright Thomas Kilroy and Emer Martin's novel The Cruelty Men.
Tune in to The Book on One, RTÉ Radio 1, Monday to Friday at 11.20pm - or listen back here.