Development & Alumni Relations Office 

THE BOOK CLUB: IN CONVERSATION WITH LEADING WRITERS ASSOCIATED WITH QUEEN’S  Two females seated reading, with selves and tables of books in background

02 February 2021

The Development and Alumni Relations Office and the Seamus Heaney Centre (SHC) at Queen's are delighted to present upcoming details of The Book Club, an online series featuring authors in conversation with one of the Centre’s esteemed writers.

On each occasion, the book under discussion will be a recent publication from a writer associated with the Seamus Heaney Centre's creative writing programme and participants will get the chance to ask questions of the author in a live Q&A session.  

The first of the series in September 2020, featured PhD student Susannah Dickey talking about her acclaimed debut novel Tennis Lessons (Doubleday, 2020), with director of the Centre, Professor Glenn Patterson. Queen's Alumni Engagement Officer, Andy Nisbet Friel, introduced the event.

In the second edition of The Book Club in November, former student Caoilinn Hughes discussed her much anticipated second novel The Wild Laughter (Oneworld, 2020), with senior SHC lecturer in Creative Writing, Garrett Carr. Caoilinn also talked about her short story I Ate It All And I Really Thought I Wouldn't, which won Best Short Story at the An Post Irish Book Awards 2020.

Recordings of these first two editions can be accessed via The Book Club website.

In the coming months, The Book Club will feature Marian Keyes, Louise Kennedy and Sam Thompson in three recently confirmed sessions:

  • On Thursday March 11 at 6pm, Ciaran Carson Fellow Louise Kennedy will be in conversation with renowned novelist and SHC Fellow for 2021, Marian Keyes.

Marian Keyes is the international bestselling author of 14 novels including Watermelon, Rachel's Holiday, Sushi for Beginners, This Charming Man, and The Break. With a chatty conversational style and whimsical Irish humour, but themes including alcoholism, depression, addiction, cancer, bereavement, and domestic violence, her novels have sold over 40 million copies worldwide and been translated into 36 languages.

Louise will be discussing Marian's latest novel, Grown Ups, published by Penguin in February 2020. 

For further details visit the Seamus Heaney Centre website and to register email

  • On Thursday May 13 at 6pm, award-winning short story writer Louise Kennedy will be the featured writer in The Book Club, in conversation with former Fellow at the Centre, Lucy Caldwell.

Louise Kennedy is a prose writer, and one of the inaugural Ciaran Carson Writing and the City Fellows at Queen’s. Her publication record includes fiction in journals such as The Tangerine, The Stinging Fly, Banshee and Winter Papers, food writing for The Guardian and Irish Times, short scripts for RTÉ Radio 1 and a commission for BBC Radio 4 Short Works.

Her stories have won prizes and she was short-listed for Sunday Times Audible Short Story Award in both 2019 and 2020.

Lucy will lead the discussion on Louise’s debut short story collection, The End of the World is a Cul de Sac, due to be published by Bloomsbury in April 2021.

Further details will be available in due course on the Seamus Heaney Centre website; to register email

  • On Thursday July 1 at 6pm, Sam Thompson, who teaches creative writing at the Seamus Heaney Centre will be the special guest of The Book Club, and will be in conversation with Children's Writing Fellow (2019-21) and recent SHC graduate Kelly McCaughrain.

Sam Thompson’s debut novel Communion Town was longlisted for the 2012 Booker Prize and Jott was shortlisted for the 2019 Encore Award. His short fiction has appeared recently in The Tangerine, Still Worlds Turning (No Alibis Press), on BBC Radio 4 and in Best British Short Stories 2019.

He has written for the Times Literary Supplement and the London Review of Books. He teaches creative writing at the Seamus Heaney Centre at Queen’s.

Kelly will be discussing Sam’s debut book for children, Wolfstongue, due to be published by Little Island in May 2021.

Further details will be available in due course on the Seamus Heaney Centre website; to register email

Speaking about The Book Club, Queen's Alumni Engagement Officer Andy Nisbet Friel, said he was delighted to welcome people to the 2021 programme:

“At a time both when socialising is heavily restricted and the arts are under such pressure, it is great to be able to offer graduates – and friends of the University – a unique insight into the many talented writers associated with the Seamus Heaney Centre at Queen’s.

“It has been said numerous times over the years that writing – and poetry in particular – is the activity for which Queen's is best known around the world. The Book Club sessions – when attendees will have the opportunity not just to hear directly from individual writers but to ask questions about the books and publications under discussion – is a wonderful opportunity to showcase the Seamus Heaney Centre and to see why that reputation is so richly deserved.

“I am deeply grateful to all those who have given so generously of their time to The Book Club to make these events – past and future – possible and am really excited about our programme for the coming months.”

For further information, please contact Queen's Alumni Engagement Officer Andy Nisbet Friel or visit The Book Club website.

For general enquiries about this story, or to submit graduate news items, please contact Gerry Power, Communications Officer, Development and Alumni Relations Office, Queen's University Belfast.


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