Three Northern Irish Authors Embark on an East Coast Tour exploring the influence of their diverse backgrounds on their writing today – 25 years after the signing of the Good Friday Agreement.
The Consulate General of Ireland in New York is proud to present ‘A New Chapter: Women Writing Northern Ireland Now’, a 5-city US tour featuring three award-winning Northern Irish writers in partnership with Columbia University, Georgetown University, New York University, Le Moyne College and Villanova University, and with support from the Northern Ireland Bureau from 27 November – 5 December.
This tour offers the opportunity to examine the Troubles and the impact of the Good Friday Agreement through the prism of culture and cultural change. Authors Lucy Caldwell, Jan Carson, and Michelle Gallen are part of a new zeitgeist of innovative and award-winning writing, which started with the success of Anna Burns (who won the Booker Prize for ‘Milkman’) and is emblematic of a “new chapter” in the lexicon of Irish writing, coming in the aftermath of peace and the outpouring of innovation and creativity which it has released.
The project is the result of an innovative partnership between Columbia University, Georgetown University, Le Moyne College, NYU, and Villanova. With the support of the Consulate General of Ireland in New York and Boston and the Northern Ireland Bureau, all have come together to sponsor this programme in a historic first which lays the groundwork for future potential collaborations in this field.
Consul General Helena Nolan welcomed this celebration of Northern Irish literature, underlining the importance of sharing Northern Irish women’s voices.
“Culture is a wonderful way to examine, discuss, and reflect on complex issues and narratives,” she said.
“It’s by sharing our stories that we learn, about ourselves and one another, and that we build the empathy which is essential for any progress. The work and the voices of these women writers is an important part of that journey, and the Consulate is delighted to support their inaugural East Coast tour.”
Authors Lucy Caldwell, Jan Carson, and Michelle Gallen will first visit New York on Monday, 27 November for an evening of readings and conversation at the Society of Fellows and Heyman Center for the Humanities at Columbia University, where they will reflect on their upbringings in Northern Ireland during The Troubles and its continuing impact on their lives, communities, creative work, and Irish culture more broadly.
On Tuesday, 28 November, the three authors will travel to Villanova University for a literary panel discussion and readings around the topics of women’s rights, the sectarian divide, and social class, in partnership with the Villanova Center for Irish Studies.
The writers’ tour then travels to Georgetown University on Wednesday, 29 November, where the three will present an evening of readings and discussion in partnership with Georgetown University’s Global Irish Studies and Solas Nua.
From there Lucy Caldwell and Michelle Gallen will travel to Boston on 1 December where they will read at a lunch at the Irish Consulate in Boston, attended by Consul General Sighle FitzGerald, before returning to New York to take part in ‘Favorite Poems’ at Irish Arts Center, as part of its annual PoetryFest.
Jan Carson will travel to Syracuse where she will read at Le Moyne College on 5 December. Consul General Helena Nolan will also attend.
Lucy Caldwell, born in Belfast, is the author of four novels, several stage plays and radio dramas, and two collections of short stories, with a third forthcoming in 2024. Awards include the Rooney Prize for Irish Literature, the George Devine Award, the Dylan Thomas Prize, a Major Individual Artist Award from the Arts Council of Northern Ireland, the BBC National Short Story Award, and the Walter Scott Prize for Historical Fiction. She was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature in 2018 and, in 2022, was the recipient of the EM Forster Award from the American Academy of Arts & Letters.
Jan Carson is a writer and community arts facilitator based in Belfast. Her first novel, Malcolm Orange Disappears, was published in 2014 followed by a short-story collection, Children’s Children (2016), and two Postcard Stories anthologies. Her second novel, The Fire Starters (2019), won the EU Prize for Literature and was shortlisted for the Dalkey Novel of the Year Award. The Raptures (2022) was shortlisted for the An Post Novel of the Year and the Kerry Group Novel of the Year. Her short story collection, Quickly, While They Still Have Horses, is forthcoming in Spring 2024. Jan is a fellow of the Royal Society of Literature.
Michelle Gallen was born in Northern Ireland in the mid-1970s and grew up during the Troubles a few miles from the border between what she was told was the “Free” State and the “United” Kingdom. She studied English literature at Trinity College Dublin, then survived what doctors now suspect was autoimmune encephalitis in her mid-twenties. Her debut novel, Big Girl, Small Town was shortlisted for the Costa First Novel Award. Her critically acclaimed second novel, Factory Girls, won the Comedy Women in Print award and was shortlisted for the RSL Encore Award. Both books are being adapted for television.