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UL One Campus One Book


Joseph O'Connor

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Prof Joseph O’Connor, Frank McCourt Chair of Creative Writing at the University of Limerick, was joined by two other award-winning authors, Christine Dwyer Hickey and Colin Barrett, for the second UL One Campus, One Book event, a reading on the 13th of November, 2014.

The event was organised in conjunction with the Limerick City of Culture Visiting Writer Series 2014 and Campus Life Services, UL. A large audience from across the UL campus and beyond gathered in the Millstream Common room to hear these distinguished authors read excerpts from their latest work. Dr Tina O’Toole from the Department of English, UL, chaired the evening and moderated a lively question and answer session between the audience and the writers. Caroline Graham of the Limerick City of Culture Visiting Writing Series commented: “We are delighted to bring writers of this calibre to Limerick audiences. Both Joseph O’ Connor and Christine Dwyer Hickey have been recently nominated for the Laureate in Irish Fiction, while Colin Barrett has this year won both the Frank O’Connor International Short Story Award and the Rooney Prize for Fiction”.

UL One Campus, One Book is a University of Limerick initiative, led by the Regional Writing Centre and the Centre for Teaching and Learning, encouraging all members of the campus community, students and staff, to read the same book and talk to one another about that book during the academic year. The Thrill of it All by Professor Joseph O’Connor is the chosen novel for the academic year 2014/2015. The book was nominated for the Bollinger Everyman Wodehouse Prize for comic novel of the year 2014 and The Eason Novel of the Year 2014 at the Bord Gáis Energy Irish Book Awards.

Prof O’Connor’s novel is his twelfth work of fiction but he also authored five works of non-fiction. Previous books include Cowboys and Indians (short-listed for the Whitbread Prize), Redemption Falls and Star of the Sea, which was an international bestseller with over one million sales and published in 38 languages. It won prizes in France, Italy and the US as well as the Hennessy/Sunday Tribune Hall of Fame Award, and the Prix Litteraire Zepter for European Novel of the Year.

Watch Prof Joseph O'Connor, talk about the UL One Campus One Book Initiative and reads some extracts from his current novel "The Thrill of it All":

Click to watch the interview

About The Thrill of it All:
At college in 1980s Luton, Robbie Goulding, an Irish-born teenager, meets elusive Fran Mulvey, an orphaned Vietnamese refugee. Together they form a band. Joined by cellist Sarah-Thérèse Sherlock and her twin brother Seán on drums, The Ships in the Night set out to chase fame. But the story of this makeshift family is haunted by ghosts from the past.

Spanning 25 years, The Thrill of it All rewinds and fast-forwards through an evocative soundtrack of struggle and laughter. Infused with blues, ska, classic showtunes, New Wave and punk, using interviews, lyrics, memoirs and diaries, the tale stretches from suburban England to Manhattan’s East Village, from Thatcher-era London to the Hollywood Bowl, from the meadows of the Glastonbury festival to a wintry Long Island, culminating in a Dublin evening in July 2012, a night that changes everything. A story of loyalties, friendship, the call of the muse, and the beguiling shimmer of teenage dreams, this is a warm-hearted, funny and deeply moving novel for anyone that’s ever loved a song.

"Occasionally, you read a sentence that you know couldn't be bettered: Joseph O'Connor's new novel is jam-packed with such sentences - paragraph after paragraph of brilliance" (Guardian)

"O'Connor at his playful and narrative best. shot through with electricity, packed with sentences that send you spinning, full of joy and sadness and swerve. This was a book to make my heart soar. Of all the Irish writers working today, Joseph O'Connor speaks better than anyone of what is genuine, what is necessary, and what is ennobling. A thrill indeed." (Colum McCann, winner of the US National Book Award and the Impac Award)

"A novel about music, family and friendship...O'Connor brilliantly evokes the 1980s... This novel is shot through with humour, patois and all the human contradictions that make the characters truly memorable." (Mail on Sunday)

"Intoxicating...a love letter to rock 'n' roll...incredibly moving" (Sunday Independent)

Inaugural year - AY 2013/14:
The chosen book for the Academic Year 2013/2014 was Donal Ryan’ s The Spinning Heart, winner of the Bord Gáis Energy Book of the Year 2012, the Sunday Independent Newcomer of the Year at the same awards and longlisted for the 2013 Man Booker Prize.

Prof. Sarah Moore, Associate Vice President Academic, referred to the initiative as “the beginning of something very special”, highlighting the importance of the initiative: “In order to be educated, responsible citizens we need good judgement, compassion and sensitivity, and you can’t have those things without imagination. What better way to nourish the imagination than through reading wonderful novels which allow us to get inside the heads of people whose lives we might otherwise not be able to understand. As Martha Nussbaum, distinguished professor of law and ethics at the University of Chicago has famously said: ‘An appropriate civic education must foster the capacity to understand people who may act from very different understandings, motives and capacities’ Donal Ryan’s wonderful novel, The Spinning Heart, is a perfect choice as the inaugural selection for One Campus One Book. It perceptively allows us to see the world from the perspectives of many different people, but it focuses on themes that unite us all, and will resonate with us in all sorts of ways. I hope it gives rise to a diversity of interesting conversations”.

“Formal or informal”, says Lawrence Cleary, Writing Consultant for the Regional Writing Centre at UL, “programmes such as the UL One Campus, One Book initiative promote a sense of community, promotes literacy, learning and intellectual engagement across disciplinary divides. We hope that Donal Ryan’s The Spinning Heart will become a common ground for individuals across every strata of the university population and of the greater community, a common experience that not everyone will have experienced in the same way”.