Tag Archives: Biofiction

UPCOMING EVENTS – NORA

NORA publishes here in Ireland on the 10th April with New Island Books and I have some events/readings coming up to celebrate the book. We have two launch events planned, one each for Dublin and Galway. More below:

26th March, 8pm GMT: American writer Jillian Cantor and I will be discussing bio-fiction, to celebrate the publication of her novel Half Life about Marie Curie. In association with Poisoned Pen Bookstore, Arizona. More here.

9th April, 7pm: Launch online in Dublin on 9th April in association with MOLI. Interview with Katherine McSharyy of the National Library of Ireland. Register here.

11th April – essay about Nora Barnacle on Sunday Miscellany. 9am to 10am on RTÉ Radio 1.

14th April: UCC Creative Writing Programme online event – 6pm. Free event! Register here.

23rd April: Launch online in Galway on 23rd April in association with the Cúirt Festival. I’m interviewed by Elaine Feeney. Time 5.30pm. Free or optional ticket purchase. Book here.

29th April: I’m taking part in the Blue Metropolis International Literary Festival, as part of Dublin Book Festival‘s appearance there. Look out for me, Breda Brown, and NORA on the 29th. More here.

Bio-fiction event with Jillian Cantor

Please join the fantastic Jillian Cantor and me at our virtual event on the 26th March from Poisoned Pen bookstore, Arizona, to discuss her novel on Marie Curie and mine on Nora Barnacle.

1pm MST / 8pm GMT

Sign up here: Jillian and Nuala bio-fiction event

NORA review – Free Lance Star, VA

Drew Gallagher has reviewed NORA for the Free Lance-Star in Fredericksburg, Virginia. Big thanks to him. I pasted the whole text below as GDPR blocks the link to those of us in Europe.

Book review: ‘Nora’ a serene, worthy addition to Joyce canon By DREW GALLAGHER FOR THE FREE LANCE–STAR Jan 9, 2021

What author Nuala O’Connor attempts in her novel “Nora” may be considered sacrilege by some. What she achieves is serene.

“Nora” is a literary biography of Nora Barnacle Joyce, the lover and wife of Irish author James Joyce and the inspiration for Molly Bloom in Joyce’s masterpiece “Ulysses.” Where the sacrilege might come in is in O’Connor’s first chapter, where she describes the first date of Nora and James in graphic and satisfying detail. To attempt to re-create the date that birthed its own holiday, Bloomsday, and was the impetus for what many consider to be the greatest novel of all time with the most salacious soliloquy of all-time is a fool’s errand, and for those who worship at the Joycean altar a form of heresy. And at the risk of upsetting the Joyceans further, I defy them to read the first chapter of “Nora” and not be enraptured and more than a little titillated.

O’Connor’s mastery is not limited to the first chapter, and she is able to tug emotion from the novel’s closing chapters where, in truth, there should be none. As with all literary biographies, we already know how the story ends, and it is unrealistic to want a biographical novel on the life of James Joyce to not end with his death, but when his sudden demise arrives, it is gut-wrenching through Nora’s loving eyes and leaves the reader staggered.

Nora and James are one of the great couples in literature, and this is underscored when Hemingway makes an appearance in Paris and quickly discards a wife for a new beau. The Joyces are not without trials and temptations, because before he was James Joyce, he was nothing more than a gifted writer trying to earn enough money from teaching to allow him to write on the side. Nora is jealous of James’ fondness for some of his students, but it is the statuesque Nora whose suitors, including James’ brother Stannie, are more direct in their intentions.

Following James’ peripatetic life through Europe and in search of money and drink can get tedious, but O’Connor elevates the reader above the mundane, which was the normal for the Joyces until the publication of “A Portrait of a Writer As a Young Man.” Ultimately, “Ulysses” freed them from having to stiff landlords for rent and opened them to Parisian society without concerns for food or dress. For the prodigal son of Ireland, Joyce spent most of his life elsewhere.

As with any work on Joyce, the ultimate question is whether or not “Nora” is a worthy addition to the Joyce canon. As Molly Bloom, the flower of the mountain, would say, “Yes.”

Irish Times Books to Watch Out for in 2021

The Irish Times includes Nora in its 2021 round-up today. The novel is in great company: new books soon from Danielle McLaughlin, Lisa McInerney, Laura McKenna and Úna Mannion, to name just a tiny few.

The Times says: ‘Nora (New Island, April) by Nuala O’Connor tells the love story of Nora Barnacle and James Joyce, an earthy and authentic love letter to Irish literature’s greatest muse. ‘

Top Reads for 2021 – Sunday Independent

The Sunday Independent has included NORA in its Top Reads for 2021, which is rather lovely.

Despite the subheading above – about ‘taking advantage of lockdown’ – it’s doubtful any of the books on this list were written last year.

I finished writing NORA in early 2019, having started it in 2017, and since then it’s been through the editorial process with my agent; then with my editor, a sub editor, and a copy editor at Harper Collins in New York; then came the cover, blurbs, and jacket design choices; and the novel had another good old edit with New Island in Dublin after that. It also had a name-change along the way – I had originally called it Barnacle. It takes a long time to make a book, not the matter of a few months cited above.