If you are anywhere near Cork in the first half of July, try to get yourself over to Bantry for the West Cork Literary Festival taking place from 6-12 July 2008. Last year I was invited to read my story ‘Dancing on Canvey’ at the festival. I found it very open and welcoming, and the town itself is a gift of a location. There were plenty locals among the crowd, especially at the free events in the library. I like events like that — often the sheer cost of entry at literary events can be excluding.
I arrived the night before and went straight to a reading in a church at which Bernard MacLaverty was telling journalist Brenda Power how his family used to eat sandwiches filled with segments of orange. I am a sucker for a Belfast accent and listening to Bernard made me want to rush out and buy his book of short stories, Matters of Life and Death. The next day I grabbed a quick coffee in Organico before my own reading in the local Bantry bookshop. It was early in the day so I kind of thought there’d be no one there, but no. A good crowd, lots of questions and debate. Brenda Power and even Bernard himself was there (sat on the floor at the back as all the chairs were gone). I felt really pleased they’d made it along, and had a good feeling about being there. I don’t know, just being part of something I guess.
Later I went to as many other events as I could fit in, many of them in Bantry library. And in the evening there was the Fish Prize ceremony. My story won first place in the Historical Novel Society / Fish Prize ‘Short Histories II’. Judges also placed it second in the Fish International Short Story Prize. It was really nice to meet other writers who’d won prizes: Vanessa Gebbie, Carys Davies and Kathleen, and several from further off (a few from America).
Among the authors taking part at this year’s festival: ColumMcCann, Dervla Murphy, Kevin Barry, David Mitchell. Win a season ticket to the 2008 festival!