Thursday, 24 September 2015


Anne Enright launching the book (me taking pics in the background!)
Pic by The Liquor Rooms
The Long Gaze Back launch last night was a big success: well attended by both writers and punters, lovely atmosphere in The Liquor Rooms, GREAT speeches by anthology editor Sinéad Gleeson (she referenced the Catherine/George furore) and by writer and launcher, Anne Enright. I so wish I had recorded Anne's speech. She spoke about gender bias in publishing and considered the way 'The cat sat on the mat' would be treated depending on whether a man or a woman had written it. Naturally, she was hilarious and pin-point accurate on the 'insightful' VS 'emotional' reactions it would get.

She also spoke about the first Field Day Anthology which famously neglected women writers. When Nuala Ó Faoláin challenged the editor Seamus Deane, he said 'I forgot.' Last night Anne Enright said, 'I don't know if they forgot or if they couldn't read.' Ó Faoláin hoped that ' the next time an anthologist bends to his task, he won’t be able to forget that there are watchful women out there.' There are, TG, the ever-watchful Sinéad Gleesons of this world.

Editor Sinéad Gleeson
I bought the anthology in Books Upstairs in the afternoon and devoured a few stories between the café there and dinner in Cornucopia. I read Eilís Ní Dhuibne's moving, funny and surprising story of a widow's grave-maintenance efforts. Lia Mills's Egypt-set story features a perimenopausal woman who is having to relearn herself. I also read June Caldwell's energetic baby-eye-view comment on the madness that goes on in Ireland's maternity services. I can't wait to read more. (Anne Enright subsequently read an extract from her story at the launch so I read the rest of that on my long bus journey back to the 'Sloe.)

Mariel Deegan of New Island
As many of the writers who were there formed a circle and signed a huge pile of books for the publisher, New Island. (There are pics of this magic circle on Twitter - check out the venue's feed). It was great to see old pals Siobhán Mannion, Niamh Boyce, Eimear Ryan, June Caldwell, Mary Costello, Lisa McInerney, Eilís Ní Dhuibhne and Lia Mills. And to meet new-to-me writers Róisín O'Donnell and Anne Devlin. It was also good to meet Bert Wright in person and to chat with IWC Director Valerie Bistany, who has brought such energy to her role in that organisation.

This book would make an excellent Christmas present for the book-worm in your life. It's beautifully produced (hardback, gorgeous design by Martin Gleeson). It costs €19.99 and you can buy it here.

(The lighting in The Liquor Rooms was not conducive to taking pics so apols for the poor quality photos.)


Lia Mills said...

Well done, Nuala I'm so glad someone did this! It was a night to remember, a great antidote to that infamous 'I forgot'!

Nuala Ní Chonchúir said...

Anne was great, educating the room. Love her energy.