O’Connor (Becoming Belle) expands on her Granta award-winning short story, “Gooseen” in this poignant, comprehensive portrait of Nora Barnacle as a young woman, mother, and literary inspiration for the Molly Bloom character in Ulysses. Nora and James Joyce’s inseparable attachment begins in Dublin on June 16, 1904 (forever remembered as Bloomsday for the setting of Joyce’s masterpiece) and stretches to 1951. Narrated in Nora’s robust voice and carried by details saturated in filth, such as a walk along the Liffey river that “smells like a pisspot spilling its muck into the sea,” the narrative traces Nora and Joyce’s nomadic life from Ireland to Trieste, Zurich, London, Rome, and Paris, and details their constant money worries, health concerns, struggles with two difficult children, and emotional despair. Despite their personal and professional achievements, and a circle of friends that includes Sylvia Beach, the Guggenheim sisters, Samuel Beckett, Ezra Pound, and other literati, the couple suffers loneliness and “mutual melancholy.” An inscription on a bracelet that Joyce gives Nora underscores their commitment to one another: “love is unhappy when love is away.” O’Connor’s admirable accomplishment adds to the abundant Joyceana with a moving examination of an unforgettable family. (Jan.)
Nuala recently won The James Joyce Quarterly fiction contest, which asked writers to submit their own version of the short story ‘Ulysses’ that Joyce had considered adding to his collection Dubliners. The journal interviews Nuala about her story, and her connection to Joyce, today. (The story is not available online, only in the hard copy journal which can be bought here). See the interview here.
I’m delighted that my short story about Nora Barnacle, ‘Gooseen’, is shortlisted for Short Story of the Year at the An Post Irish Book Awards. You can read all of the stories at writing.ie and vote for your favourite there, or at the #APIBAS site, which also has all the shortlisted books.
Winners will be announced at the An Post Irish Book Awards Ceremony and Gala Dinner on Tuesday 27th November in the Clayton Hotel, Burlington Road, Dublin.
A lovely excuse for a nice frock and a great, fun night with friends in the Irish literary world. Can’t wait!