Tuesday, 20 June 2017


The names went into the hat and the winner of the giveaway (book and Jupitery purse) is Fergal Lenehan. Congrats, Fergal!

Sunday, 18 June 2017


Two reviews today for the book - another joint one with June Caldwell, from Anne Cunningham in the Sunday Independent. Glowing. A more muted one from Kevin Power in the Sunday Business Post. Interesting the way the laud/loathe thing happens with reviewers over the same story :)

Click and zoom to read.

Saturday, 17 June 2017


Galway launch of Joyride to Jupiter in Rosie McGurran's Studio and Gallery
Bloomsday, 16th June 2017

Artist Gavin Lavelle, who launched the book with artist Úna Spain

Artist Deborah Watkins, me, writer Lisa Carey

Finbar with Michael

Clementine Lavelle, Liam Carey Spalding, Juno and pal

My sons Cúán and Finn, with their Dad, John Dillon

Me with some of the crowd

Some of the crowd in Rosie's gallery

Rosie McGurran welcomes us

Post launch mingling in the kitchen

Thursday, 15 June 2017


The Dublin launch of Joyride to Jupiter in the Gutter Book Shop
14th June 2017

With Lia Mills who gave a wonderful speech

With daughter Juno

With my first publisher Alan Hayes and writer Patrick Chapman

With my brother Ronan O'Connor

John Foyle et moi

Writer Niall McArdle

Writer Adam Trodd

Writers Catherine Dunne & Tanya Sweeney

John Foyle, writer Doreen Finn & Gutter bookshop owner Bob Johnston

My editor at New Island Dan Bolger

Wrtier Monica McInerney

Writer Lauren Foley

Monday, 12 June 2017


It's publication day for my new short story collection Joyride to Jupiter, whoop! It's already had two stellar reviews in The Sunday Times and Irish Times, and I have two launches this week, in Dublin the 14th and in Galway on Bloomsday, the 16th. ALL WELCOME for books, readings, wine, space-themed buns and chats!

To celebrate publication day I am giving away one copy of the book to a reader of this blog with a bonus gift of this cute little purse decorated with spacy joyriders to jupiter:

To enter, just leave a comment with your name (no anons, please) and a link to your blog, Twitter or Facebook, or your email address, so I can contact you if you win. I won't be chasing people to the ends of the earth (or Jupiter...) so please make yourself contactable when you enter :)

I will post to anywhere in the world. Draw will take place on Tuesday 20th June. Check back then to see if you've won and to send me your address. Good luck!

Saturday, 10 June 2017


Another cracker of a review for Joyride to Jupiter, this time from Houman Barekat in today's Irish Times. Delighted with it!
'This blending of wry, caustic irreverence and meditative poignancy is central to the success of O’Connor’s storytelling. The mix is just right: the internal monologues are exactly as long as they need to be; the humour is well-timed and effective. The dramatic moments, of which there are a fair few ... are rendered with unobtrusive deftness.' Meep!

Full text of the review:

Joyride to Jupiter review: a collection of skilfully crafted fictions
Houman Barekat

It is often said that smells can evoke memories more powerfully than sights or sounds. They crop up time and again in Nuala O’Connor’s short story collection, Joyride to Jupiter: the stench of fish guts on a quayside, the sour tang of hotel bedrooms, the soapy odour of an older couple’s bedroom, the mildewy pong of damp-ridden lodgings, the passing whiff of a familiar perfume. The protagonist of one story, Futuretense, writes marketing copy for fragrances. Her reflections on the suicide of her beloved brother, whose scent she helped him choose as a child, are interspersed with corny product blurbs, pointedly juxtaposing personal introspection with the vapid gibberish of commercial puff.

Many of these 19 stories – whose settings range from Dublin and obscure Co Mayo villages to Naples and the Copacabana – are concerned with loss or absence. Room 313 is about a Ukrainian cleaner who only gets to see her young daughter via Skype, while Squidinky tells of a tattooist grieving for her partner: “I am lonely, it’s true, but it’s more more that – I’m alone.” This melancholic timbre is animated by bursts of ironic wit and sprinklings of bawdy humour.

Affairs and infidelities abound. The narrator of Consolata catches her father having sex with a nun (“As I approached I heard a moist slap-slap . . .) and is compelled to keep quiet about it. In Mayo Oh Mayo, a young Irishwoman’s feelings for her American lover dissipate into indifferent contempt, concluding that “there is no getting to the bottom of the man because there are no depths to flounder in”. In Napoli Abú a jaded singleton speaks of her regret at having diminished the frisson of her affair with a married man by googling his wife.

O’Connor does a fine line in unsympathetic narrators who fire off withering put-downs with provocative insouciance. The narrator of The Donor, for example, describes a woman as having “a reality TV face; one of those faces that drips tears when her dough fails to prove, or her house mates vote her out”. Xavier, a sperm donor, is surreptitiously scoping out his biological son by befriending his mother.

At the start of this dubious undertaking he is flush with the optimism and misplaced paternal zeal, but his enthusiasm soon gives way to disappointment and disgust, to the point that the sight of the boy playing with his dog is described thus: “Ludo hunkered down and began to talk absolute shite to the mutt . . .” The narration here is in the third person, but it internalises Xavier’s perspective in a breezily scathing indirect speech.

In Tinnycross, a pair of estranged brothers squabble over their inheritance following the deaths of their parents. Revisiting his rural childhood home elicits, in one of them, a pang of nostalgia for “that precious, pellucid place of scant worldly pain”. He wonders: “Is it possible . . . to be in love with a field? . . . And if it is possible, is it wise?”

In the volume’s title story, the narrator’s dementia-stricken wife regresses to child-like capriciousness: she takes to wearing a tracksuit and buys a garish teeny eyeshadow called Joyride to Jupiter; when her daughter scoffs at this, she gives her a slap.

Both of these tales brim with wistful affection and human warmth. O’Connor moves seamlessly from this to a jovially sardonic portrait of coupledom in Penny and Leo Married Bliss, whose narrator has just trashed her errant boyfriend’s laptop in elaborate fashion (“I knew he was watching that auld porno and I was having none of it”) and is idly pining after the local priest: “God forgive me but I’d bounce up and down on Father Hugh Boylan all night, given a chance.”

This blending of wry, caustic irreverence and meditative poignancy is central to the success of O’Connor’s storytelling. The mix is just right: the internal monologues are exactly as long as they need to be; the humour is well-timed and effective. The dramatic moments, of which there are a fair few – including an illicit lesbian dalliance and the murder of a would-be paedophile by his wife – are rendered with unobtrusive deftness.

O’Connor’s fourth novel is due out in 2018; if these skilfully crafted fictions are anything to go by, it will be one to look out for.

Wednesday, 7 June 2017




Joyride to Jupiter by Nuala O'Connor
New Island Books 
requests the pleasure of your company to celebrate the Galway launch of 

Joyride to Jupiter 

by Nuala O'Connor


on Friday, June 16th at 7.00pm,
in the Rosie McGurran Gallery and Studio,
Roundstone, Galway.

Guest speaker: Artist Gavin Lavelle 

Please email info@newisland.ie or call 01 – 2784225 to RSVP.
Praise for Nuala O'Connor

‘These stories - from a writer of immense talent - are a joy to read.' – Sinéad Gleeson

'A gifted and ambitious artist.' – Mike McCormack
‘Nuala O’Connor’s luminous prose has long been one of Ireland’s most treasured literary secrets’ – Dermot Bolger
A heartbroken man deals with his wife’s Alzheimer’s as best he can. The Jesus of O’Connell Street reflects on his situation, which isn’t half bad. A too-young girl witnesses her father’s shocking infidelity. A quiet murder on a riverbank.
Imperfect lovers and unlikely friends thwart and bolster each other as they act out their dramas on the beaches of Brazil, in the bedrooms of Dublin, and in the wilds of North America. With prose both lyrical and profound, the award-winning Nuala O’Connor writes of maternal love and cross-generational friendship but here, also, are stories of ageing, suicide, and the buoyancy of new love.
In these urgent, humane stories of ill-advised couplings, loneliness and burgeoning hope, we find O’Connor’s trademark humour and sensuality, and the quest for longed-for truths.
A truly stunning collection by one of Ireland’s finest writers.
Nuala O'Connor
Nuala O’Connor (AKA Nuala Ní Chonchúir) was born in Dublin and lives in East Galway. A novelist, short story writer and poet, she is the author of three novels, including Miss Emily(Penguin USA/Canada, Sandstone (UK)), about the poet Emily Dickinson and her Irish maid, five short story collections, and four collections of poetry.

Miss Emily was shortlisted for the Novel of the Year award at the 2015 Irish Book Awards, and longlisted for the 2017 International DUBLIN Literary Award. Nuala’s fourth novel, Becoming Belle, is published in 2018.

Sunday, 4 June 2017


Louisa Carroll in The Sunday Times reviewed my book alongside June Caldwell's début short story collection today. Here is the full text of it below. I'm pleased as a dog with two pockets :)


Love affair continues with the short story
Reviews by Louisa Carroll
June 4 2017, 12:00am, The Sunday Times

Joyride to Jupiter by Nuala O’ Connor New Island Press £9.99 pp180

Room Little Darker by June Caldwell New Island Press £9.99 pp220

If, as the writer Lorrie Moore claims, short stories are like love affairs while the novel is a marriage, then I’ll happily stay unattached. Being perfect for the phone readers and the pressed for time may explain the short story’s recent surge in popularity. However, as shown in two new collections, Joyride to Jupiter by Nuala O’Connor and Room Little Darker by June Caldwell, the short story also best reflects the intensity of contemporary life.

“With these moments of clarity we learn to value tiny things . . . that’s what I’m telling myself. We’re f*** all on the grand scale,” says the sadomasochistic slave narrator of Caldwell’s story Leitrim Flip. The characters in both collections share this ability to muse insightfully about the purpose of their own existence while simultaneously behaving in ways that contradict the insight. This calls to mind the title of Thomas Morris’ recent short-story collection We don’t know what we’re doing. As Caldwell’s slave continues: “I feel so mentally crazed so much of the time, I just want someone to take me in hand, to show me how to behave.”

O’Connor’s vivid characters are at least in the driving seat of life’s joyride, but seem far from in control. Those characters in Joyride to Jupiter who resist their own futility by using coping strategies such as repression, egotism and belligerence fare poorest. In the title story from the collection, the repercussions of elderly Mr. Halpin’s belief that he is “the worm” in his wife Teresa’s “dementia apple” costs him dearly, as does the blind egotism that leads Xavier in The Donor to decide on a whim to track down a young boy conceived through his sperm donation.

It is the characters that relinquish control in favour of acceptance who find momentary peace such as in O’Connor’s Girl Grief, in which a grandmother and her recently orphaned granddaughter surrender to the abyss of grief together. O’Connor’s language is clean and conscientious as well as poetic and lyrical, evident in the abstraction of Yellow. The collection exudes a quiet confidence and exercises the exemplary restraint of a seasoned writer who knows when to pull rather than push.

Caldwell’s high-octane Room Little Darker is the more freewheeling. From the outset her prose is a bombardment of sounds and images, like a boy racer’s car throbbing to its own dub-beat soundtrack. This is an unflinching collection which thuds with life and kicks with horror. It is miserably hilarious, taking in subjects as diverse as drug addiction, sadomasochism, homelessness, and even child robots designed for paedophiles in BoybotTM. Caldwell’s first collection is a mark maker, relentlessly demanding the reader to “take our modern horrors on the chin in the same way sewage is turned back into drinking water, axiomatically”.

Caldwell’s stories are underwritten by a deep assessment of the fallibility of the human condition. Upcycle is an affecting portrait of a family’s contradictory relationship to their abusive father’s dementia, and Cadaverus Moves is a loving warts-and-all depiction of a beloved brother’s death by cancer.

Both collections benefit by the other’s existence. O’Connor’s collection would be served by some of Caldwell’s fearlessness, and Caldwell by O’Connor’s informed subtlety of hand.

Friday, 2 June 2017


I'll be at the inaugural Flash Fiction Festival in Bath for NFFD this year but for those in Ireland, Big Smoke Writing Factory are having their customary celebration. See below for details of reading and comps.

Hello all! Our annual event for National Flash Fiction Day will take place this year on Sunday, 25th June, 3pm-6pm, in the International Bar on Wicklow St.


Bold and brief, fleeting and urgent - with National Flash Fiction Day now in its sixth year, we've embraced all things devilish! We're proud to present our #NFFD event, THE DEVIL'S IN THE DETAIL! Join us in The International Pub for our now-traditional event on Sunday 25th June to celebrate writing that is short and sharp. We hope to showcase the best flash fiction writers Dublin has to offer!

We're also thrilled to announce the return of our flash fiction competition, THE 66! This year we've made it even harder- the word-perfect flash challenge where every story entered must be EXACTLY 66 words (including title) . No more. No less. The competition is free to enter and we have a brillinat first prize lined up! The deadline for submissions is 18th June and 2 stories max can be sent (in separate emails please!) toflash@bigsmokewritingfactory.com!

We're also looking for readers! If you would like to read at our event please submit your work (published or unpublished) to us! We'll select the finest 666 word (including title) stories for the event. The deadline for submissions is 11th June and 2 stories max can be sent (in separate emails please!) to flash@bigsmokewritingfactory.com!

Whether you're a total flash-enthusiast or you've never encountered flash fiction before, this is an afternoon of creativity and inspiration not to be missed! As always this event is FREE and all are welcome. We look forward to seeing you there!