Cork International Short Story Festival
Organised annually by the Munster Literature Centre, the 17th Cork International Short Story Festival — the only one of its kind in the country and now the oldest in the world — has been taking place in Leeside all week, giving readers and writers a rare chance to revel in the pleasures of short form fiction.
Irish authors were to the fore, with a range of well-known names entertaining audiences at the Firkin Crane — the Shandon-based centre which became the festival’s home-base last year. It was, however, the city newest venue, the ‘Goldie Chapel’ in Nano Nagle Place, which hosted the highlight evening — a joint reading by Madeleine D’Arcy and Danielle McLaughlin, two Cork authors whose story collections have been scooping up a host of literary awards.
The night of rapid fire flash fiction which followed, when 20 writers took to the altar of the impressive deconsecrated church, accompanied by the music of Nick Kelly, made for an evening of fun not usually associated with literary festivals.
The ‘most enjoyable raconteur’ title has to go to Dubliner Carlo Gébler (right) — son of the writers Edna O’Brien and Ernest Gebler — who visited Cork to read alongside the ever-impressive Alannah Hopkin. It was an ideal pairing as Gebler — a writer with a hugely successful literary track record in fiction and non-fiction — took the audience back to a time when his late father, with whom he had a poor relationship, would refer to Hopkin’s books and say to him, pointedly, “Now, that’s a writer”. Gebler delivered a prison tale from his latest collection, The Wing
Orderly’s Tales, while Hopkin read the title story from her recent collection, The Dogs of Inishere.
Friday saw Sean Ó Faolain Prizewinner 26-year-old Louise Nealon, from Co Kildare, present her short story and collect her award, while Nuala O’Connor, Alan McMonagle and Billy O’Callaghan read from their work.
Authors from Britain, Canada, and the US were among the international contingent underlining the festival’s global credentials, while free events hosted by Cork’s Central Library showcased the current crop of literary magazines and journals providing a vital outlet for writers.