I will be talking about NORA, with Belfast writer Maureen Boyle, at the John Hewitt Summer School at the Marketplace Theatre, Armagh, 13:30 IST, Wednesday 28 July 2021. This event will stream too. More here.
14th June, 10pm IST: I will in conversation with Kerri Maher on Instagram at 5pm EST/10pm IST. Kerri’s book about Sylvia Beach appears in 2022.
15th June, 5pm IST/6pm ECT: I will be discussing NORA with the Irish Embassy of Belgium Book Club.
* 16th June, Bloomsday *
3.15pm IST: I’ll be talking about Bloomsday on the Afternoon Show on BBC Radio Scotland.
6pm IST: I am taking part in the James Joyce Centre in Dublin’s annual Bloomsday flagship event for Ulysses: Readings and Songs which runs on Facebook Live from 6pm.
7pm IST/2pm ET: I will be discussing life writing and NORA with the University of Notre Dame & the Kylemore Book Club. More here.
7pm IST, RTÉ 1 television: I feature on Nationwide with Anne Cassin. We go to Galway city and explore Nora and James Joyce’s haunts there. We also go to Kennys book shop. You can watch the piece on the RTE Player.
7.30pm IST: I speak about NORA with the Consulate General of Ireland in Atlanta, Georgia, as part of their Bloomsday ‘In Praise of Women’ celebration. Watch the video here. My bit starts at 25 mins.
I am interviewed by founding editor & publisher of the The Stinging Fly literary magazine, Declan Meade, for The Stinging Fly podcast. It is available now here.
17th June: I’ll be on the Wexford-based Red Books podcast talking with Álanna Hammel about NORA, James Joyce, and writing bio-fiction. Link to follow!
17th June, 7pm Berlin/6pm Ireland: I will be reading from and discussing NORA with Melanie Neumann of the Embassy of Ireland in Berlin. Sign up here.
The panel also discusses Julia Parry’s The Shadowy Third which I reviewed for Books Ireland magazine. An excellent read, one of my books of the year, for sure. My review of that is here.
John Walshe has given NORA a good review in today’s Sunday Business Post. (Despite the photo caption, that is not Nora with JJ, but Lucia.)
Judy Murphy interviewed me for the Connacht Tribune, about NORA.
I had a lovely day filming in Galway, for Nationwide with Anne Cassin and Camerman Matt Kelly of RTÉ. We went to Rahoon, Bowling Green, Presentation Road, and ended up at Kennys Book shop in Liosbán. Great fun, despite the wind and ‘muttering rain’. Broadcast date TBC. Thanks to Dean Kelly and Finbar McLoughlin for photos.
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.
My first New York Times review today and it’s for my beloved NORA. Big thanks to Alida Becker. I’ve pasted the entire thing in below; a swift flavour though: ‘…Nora is entirely convincing in her raw sensuality, her stubborn determination, her powerful sense of grievance.’ Very pleased 🙂
NEW YORK TIMES – 16th March 2021
Three Historical Novels Explore the Strength of Human Connection – Alida Becker
“Messy” doesn’t begin to describe the domestic life of the narrator of Nuala O’Connor’s NORA (Harper Perennial, 458 pp., paper, $16.99), the minimally educated, relentlessly blue-collar woman who propped up one of literature’s most challenging highbrow writers, James Joyce. There are times when you wonder whether the real Nora Barnacle would have been quite so articulate (“he’s also a bother to my heart and a conundrum to my mind”), but this fictional Nora is entirely convincing in her raw sensuality, her stubborn determination, her powerful sense of grievance and her inability to stop loving a deeply erratic, wildly manipulative yet enormously talented man.
You won’t find much about Joyce’s works in Nora’s account of his torturous climb from poverty-stricken anonymity to professional acclaim. (“Portrait of the Artist” comes off as “strings of baby babble” to someone who prefers “penny dreadfuls and romances.”) You will, however, be given an intimate look at the struggle that made Joyce’s work possible as Nora describes how she followed along when he fled Ireland for dead-end jobs in Switzerland and Italy, watched him waste his paychecks on carousing while she took in washing for grocery money, and let herself become far too reliant on his long-suffering brother after the Joyce entourage grew to include a son and a daughter.
Set against all this, Nora’s small triumphs loom large. In Paris in 1925, two decades after she first “walked out” with Joyce, the now-middle-aged Nora proudly announces that “at last I have a home to call my own and furniture besides.” Her money worries may be gone, but now there are worries about her children, particularly Lucia, with that “skittery-skattery look” in her eyes, who will eventually be diagnosed as schizophrenic and confined to a mental hospital. Even Nora’s uterine cancer (“the doctor now says the whole lot has to come out”) and Joyce’s glaucoma (“the eyes are murder; 10 operations later and it’s worse they get”) can’t distract her from a terrible sense of guilt: “How can I tell him that between us we may have made our daughter mad?”
Alida Becker is a former editor at the Book Review.