Monday, 24th August
Chaired by Al Senter
Perhaps best known amongst book fans as the author of The Boy In The Striped Pyjamas, John Boyne is a versatile writer. Joining Al Senter in the wonderful Spiegeltent, Boyne was keen to talk about both his new novel, A History of Loneliness and his new book for young adults, Stay Where You Are.
With such an impressive and diverse program, it may have come as a surprise that this turned out to be one of the Book Fest’s most enjoyable and interesting events. A History of Loneliness is a story concerned with the Irish Catholic Church, the nature of priesthood, and the horrible stories of child abuse connected with the Church in recent years. Being born and raised a Catholic in Ireland, this is perhaps that of Boyne’s novels that are closest to home, both in terms of actually being set in his native country, but also as a social commentary on his own childhood and relationship with the church.
From the offset it is clear that Boyne still holds a lot of anger about the presence of child abuse in the Irish Catholic Church, and he admits that this anger is one of the reasons why this novel hasn’t been published until now. However, when speaking about the events that took place to a fully packed Spiegeltent it instantly becomes clear that this is a topic very close to his heart, and one that he felt the need to write about. Sharing stories, both of his own childhood and that of Ireland more generally, he is able to put across the anger we should all be feeling, yet without painting the story as black and white as might be expected in the current circumstances.
Extremely moving and thoroughly engaging, this truly is an event should all be sad to have missed.