When Roddy Doyle self-published his first novel, The Commitments, in 1987, he was told he’d struggle to attract readers beyond Dublin. Decades later – after a Booker Prize (for Paddy Clarke Ha Ha Ha), numerous novels, two films based on his books, and several screenplays – he’s gone from cult hero to cornerstone of the Irish literary establishment. And while his fan-base is worldwide, Ireland remains at the heart of his art. Here, he’s joined by journalist/reviewer Blanche Clark in conversation for our 10 series.
During this event, Doyle reads from short story collection Bullfighting, discusses the compilation’s middle-aged protagonists and why its stories didn’t become novels; he explains the prominence of Cadbury’s in his work, describes writing The Commitments, capturing the vernacular (without eavesdropping) and responding to bad reviews. Finally, he shares his favourite young writers of Dublin, considers what makes an Irish writer and explains the inevitability of political influences on his characters.
Blanche Clark has been a journalist for 23 years.
Alan Brough was born in New Zealand and is quite a bit older than he'd like to be. Alan has always loved books and, from an early age, wanted to be a writer. Then he and his Dad went to see Star Wars and Alan decided that, actually, he really, really, really, really, really wanted to be an actor.
After having been an actor for a while Alan realised there wasn't that much work for a 6'4" guy with a slightly lopsided face and thick curly hair so he tried his hand at directing, broadcasting, composing, dancing (true!), singing and, in an unexpected turn of events, being a professional music nerd.
Recently, he got around to being a writer.
One day he hopes to have a bio that includes phrases like 'bestselling', 'award-winning' and 'so successful that he recently bought a solid gold toilet' but, until then, he's just happy to look at his copy of Charlie and the War Against the Grannies and think: 'Cool! I wrote a book!'
Sjón was born in Reykjavik in 1962. He won the Nordic Council’s Literature Prize, the equivalent of the Man Booker Prize, for The Blue Fox, which was also longlisted for the Independent Foreign Fiction Prize in 2009.
Roddy Doyle is the author of nine novels, a collection of stories, and Rory & Ita, a memoir of his parents.