One City One Book Launch – March 2018

 In Diary, News

Each April sees the launch of the One City One Book choice for that year.
For 2018, the book in question is ‘The Long Gaze Back’, an anthology of short stories written by women and edited by Sinéad Gleeson, herself a fine writer. And it is indeed a ‘long gaze’: 218 years separate the oldest story and the newest in the collection – Maria Edgeworth and Eimear Ryan respectively.

In her Introduction, the editor says:

‘I wanted this book to look back, as well as forward: to trace a line to the past when women publishing their writing were rare, and often discouraged.’ She includes stories from the eighteenth century up to today. ‘Much of the early work,’ she says, ‘shows women straining against the gendered roles of the time.’

And while several stories deal with the inner lives of women – exposing all sorts of universal truths in the process – there is a wide and diverse range of issues under the literary microscope.

Emigration, and its attendant sense of displacement – or opportunity. The sense of being an outsider, of being shoehorned into a socially acceptable straitjacket, the grief of confronting lost potential: all these themes, and more, are explored with passion, insight and emotional clarity.

One City One Book was established in 2006.

Since then, all of the works featured have been written by men, with the exception of ‘Fallen’, the novel by Lia Mills, which was the choice of both Dublin and Belfast for 2016 – the first time that the two cities twinned their celebrations, although I hope it won’t be the last.

It is a very welcome departure to see ‘The Long Gaze Back’, which celebrates the work of so many overlooked women writers, taking front and centre stage without apology. There will be dozens of fascinating events all over the city of Dublin during the month of April.


An anthology of short stories has many joys: one of them is for the reader to be in the company of so many writers at the same time. We can dip in, choose one or two of the thirty literary gems on offer, and enjoy living with the different voices inside our heads.


At the launch in Pearse Street Library on the 7th March, nine of the included writers read from their work. Alison Lyons, Director of Dublin’s UNESCO City of Literature, gave a warm and heartfelt welcome to this year’s book choice.

Putting the schedule of events together each year is a mammoth task of organisation and commitment. I’d like to offer my congratulations to all of the team concerned.

Dublin’s Lord Mayor, Micheál MacDonncha, hoped that the ‘Long Gaze Back’ would encourage everyone to enjoy the range of events associated with this year’s celebrations, most of them free of charge.


I’m particularly looking forward to the 7th April, where I get to chair an event in The New Theatre, Temple Bar, involving performed readings of work by Anne Devlin, Eilís Ní Dhuibhne, Lia Mills and Christine Dwyer Hickey.

It’s always a special experience to be with fellow authors where we discuss the challenges, the joys and the frustrations of the writing process.
There are dozens of tempting events to choose from all throughout the month. On my personal list right now – although I’ll also be booking others – are Irish Women Artists and Modernism, A Feast of Female Voices and Our Stories Ourselves.

Be sure and book early: these events are going to fill up fast.

Follow the link at the top of the page and enjoy April.

See you there!

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