Have you got a favourite book about Northern Ireland, or a local author who always makes you want to read on?
Following hot on the heels of One City One Book Belfast 2012, the Arts Council is looking for suggestions for the next One City One Book read to be the focus of the 2013 campaign.
Nominated books can be anything from poetry, to a short story, children’s books, biography or factual work. The only requirement is it needs to be set in Northern Ireland or written by an author from Northern Ireland. The idea behind the initiative is to celebrate local writing talent and encourage as many people in a particular place to read and discuss the same book at the same time. This year Belfast-born author Glenn Patterson’s novel The Mill for Grinding Old People Young was chosen as Northern Ireland’s first ever One City One Book read and now the Arts Council is inviting nominations for One City One Book 2013.
Last month the chosen novel for 2012 was celebrated with a special month-long programme of events – including a film programme, library talks and tours – all themed around the novel’s portrayal of 1800s Belfast.
Damian Smyth, Head of Literature at the Arts Council, explained: “Northern Ireland has produced a fine pedigree of authors and this initiative is all about celebrating their work. We’ve been overwhelmed with the success of the 2012 first One City One Book project and the response it received from the public but now we want to hear what people would like to read next.”
Famous books with NI links include Jonathan Swift’s Gulliver’s Travels inspired by the landscape of Belfast’s Cave Hill, CS Lewis’ The Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe written in the author’s East Belfast home, Sam Hanna Bell’s December Bride set on the shores of Strangford Lough, Colin Bateman’s black comedy Troubles satire Divorcing Jack and Jennifer Johnston’s Derry-based Shadows on Our Skin .
Acclaimed poets like Seamus Heaney, Louis MacNeice, John Hewitt and Michael Longley all have connections to Northern Ireland but as Damian Smyth says, the next One City One Book choice is wide open for nominations.
“Over the last number of years we have seen a number of really terrific children’s books like Oliver Jeffers’ The Incredible Book Eating Boy, Sheena Wilkinson’s Taking Flight and Trisha Deery’s Miss Rosie Red, authors who are really beginning to make a name for themselves internationally. There’s no reason why something like this couldn’t be the next One City One Book read,” he said.
“Whether you are a regular reader or rarely get the chance to pick up a book, most people have come across a story at one point in their lives which has affected them in some way. One City One Book is all about reconnecting with locally produced writing and reclaiming the simple pleasure that literature can bring into our lives.”
Nominate your favourite Northern Ireland book at facebook.com/artscouncilni or by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org