The Book Show

    The Book Show Saturday 6 February 2016

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    It's ten years since acclaimed Irish writer John McGahern died. The Book Show explores his works with writers Eilis Ni Dhuibne and Carlo Gebler and we visit the McGahern Archive in

    The Book Show, Saturday 6th February

    This week The Book Show remembers the work of writer John McGahern.

    This year is the 10th anniversary of his death in 2006. McGahern's novels portray Irish society and family life in Ireland over the decades from the 50's to the time of his death.

    Novels such as The Barracks, The Dark, Amongst Women, That They May Face The Rising Sun and his autobiography Memoir are among his books which have place McGahern at the heart of Irish writing for over 40 years.

    Sinéad Gleeson is joined in studio by Professor Frank Shovlin from the University of Liverpool. He is currently writing two books on John McGahern - 'Touchstones: John McGahern's Classical Style' and  'The Letters of John McGahern'.

    Also in studio is writer Carlo Gebler who has adapted a number of McGahern’s works for television.

    They discuss the impact that McGahern's early work had on Irish society, explore his writing style and assess the importance of family relationships in the novels and stories.

    Sinéad also travels to NUI Galway where she meets archivist Barry Houlihan there to look at a wealth of material from the archive of John McGahern kept at The Hardiman Library at NUIG. Drafts of stories written into old copy books, an unpublished novel and letters to and from the author all shine a light on McGahern's writing process and some of the key relationships in his life. One letter is from his father Frank and the critical tone in it may expalin some of the difficulty John McGahern had in his early life with his father – a theme which recurrs thoughout his work.

    Writer Eilis NíDhuibhne meditates on one of McGahern's most famous books, Amongst Women, which was shortlisted for The Booker Prize in 1990, saying that the title alone, pointed to a new departure for McGahern. Women came into focus in the writing of the eighties and this is something which we can see in this novel.

    We also travel to Ballinamore in McGahern's home county of Leitrim. His novels and stories are rich in descriptions of the landscape and the communities there and a reader's group from Ballinamore Public Library offer their own perspectives on his writing.

    Barry Houlihan and Sinéad Gleeson

    The Book Show, presented by Sinead Gleeson, 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 bookshow@rte.ie and you’ll find us on twitter @bookshowrte and on Facebook.

    Sinead Gleeson Photo credit: Annie Atkins

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