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The 2020 International Literature Festival in Dublin

The International Literature Festival Dublin has revealed the programme for this year. And like many of this year’s cultural events affected by the pandemic, this programme will take place online. Dhai Almutairi chats with those involved in the upcoming virtual festival.


Photo taken by Michael Casey. Sourced from Flickr.

Joey Kavanagh from the International Literature Festival Dublin spoke to The City about this year’s programme. 

“Normally the festival takes place in May with physical events that people can attend in person, but due to the Covid 19 pandemic, we had to postpone this year,” said Joey Kavanagh, 

The programme is scheduled to run from the 22nd to the 28th of October 2020. It offers pre-recorded conversations, live streams, and podcasts for literary fans of all ages.

Dublin City Council initiative, International Literature Festival Dublin annually presents a collection of great Irish and international authors and artists, and this year is no different.  

There is a new podcast series, Tall Tales, which will feature interviews with children’s writers for the younger readers.  

There will be discussions on representation in children’s books, book recommendations, and tips on how to get children reading.  

The lineup of authors for younger readers includes Frank Cottrell Boyce, Adiba Jaigirdar, David Stevens, Sharna Jackson, Chris Riddell, Laureate na nÓg Áine Ní Ghlinn, Lorraine Levis, and David O’Callaghan, as well as events with Oliver Jeffers, Onjali Rauf, Robin Stevens, Sinead Burke, Chris Judge, Maggie O’Farrell.

There will be a fun family writing workshop with Gerard Siggins and the innovative Buggybird art and story workshop with Niamh Sharkey and Mary Murphy.  

The lineup of participants for grown-up readers includes international famous authors and artists like Roxane Gay, Yanis Varoufakis, and artist Ai Weiwei. Irish participants include Roddy Doyle, Mark O’Connell, Elaine Feeney, Bob Geldof, Anne Enright, and Patrick Freyne. 

The International Dublin Literary Award’s recipient will be announced during the festival. In its 25th year, the International Dublin Literary Award is the world’s most valuable annual prize for a single work of fiction published in English, with the winner receiving €100,000. 

“The nomination process for the Award is unique as nominations are made by libraries in the capital and major cities throughout the world,” said Mr Kavanagh.

He added, “Participating libraries can nominate up to three novels each year. Over 400 library systems in 177 countries worldwide are invited to nominate books each year.”

The novels on this year’s shortlist were nominated by public libraries in Canada, France, Germany, Greece, Ireland, Jamaica, New Zealand, Poland, the UK, and the USA.

The Award is open for novels written in any language and by authors of any nationality, given the book has been published in English or has an English translation. The Award will be announced on Thursday the 22nd of October, at 11am. The shortlist includes one Irish author Anne Burns, author of Milkman, and winner of the 2018 Man booker Prize for Fiction. 

Lord Mayor of Dublin and Patron of the Award, Hazel Chu, applauded the Award for the opportunity to promote Irish writing internationally and promote excellence in world literature. 

“It’s more important than ever that Dublin City Council does its best to support the Arts in such challenging times, and the International Dublin Literary Award is a huge statement of encouragement for writers.” said Lord Mayor Chu.

The International Literature Festival Dublin has also started a new initiative, ‘Compass’, a series of events that celebrates contributions and stories of those whose roots lie outside of Ireland. 

“With the Compass initiative, ILF Dublin is showcasing new voices and fresh perspectives from a number of people now living in Ireland whose roots lie outside of the country,” explained Kavanagh. 

“Following an invitation for proposals in February 2020 from Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic (BAME) individuals and groups with stories to share, six events will be presented next week in the festival,” he added

The themes explored by the six events include the concept of Irishness, migration, and the power of language, stories, and multiculturalism with art forms ranging from poetry and theatre to music and dance. 

Compass’s six events are free to attend, but the festival is inviting donations from audiences, and the donations go directly to the artists and writers in the programme.

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