Novel Memories: Reading & Remembering in Northern Ireland

Date Sunday 13 June 2021
Time 5:00 PM
PriceA Free Event
Age Range16+ years
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Novel Memories: Reading & Remembering in Northern Ireland


How do we remember books we read in the past? How do fictional depictions of real-world events and places – whether domestic spaces or the streets of Belfast – affect our own memories and how we talk about them?

Join writer Jan Carson (The Fire Starters) and Dr Eli Davies (Ulster University), in conversation with Professor Sebastian Groes from the University of Wolverhampton’s AHRC-funded Novel Perceptions project, as they explore the relationship between story and place, fictional representations of the home during the Troubles, and reading communities within Northern Ireland. 

Groes will reveal new research into the ways Northern Irish readers have engaged with the BBC’s Novels That Shaped Our World and challenge you to test your knowledge with our contemporary fiction quiz. 

The event ends with a Q&A.  

Looking to buy a book by one of the writers involved in this year's programme? Check out our official Festival Bookstore partner, No Alibi’s, who have created this special Belfast Book Festival page on their website which features the books and collections of the writers at the 2021 Festival. Plus they are offering a 10% discount on all of the Festival titles! 


Jan Carson is a writer and community arts facilitator based in Belfast, Northern Ireland. She has a novel, Malcolm Orange Disappears and short story collection, Children’s Children (Liberties Press), two micro-fiction collections, Postcard Stories 1 and 2 (Emma Press) and a short story collection, The Last Resort (Doubleday). Her novel The Fire Starters (Doubleday) won the EU Prize for Literature for Ireland 2019, the Kitschies Prize for Speculative Fiction 2020 and was shortlisted for the Dalkey Book Prize 2020. Jan won the Harper’s Bazaar Short Story competition in 2016 and has been shortlisted for the BBC National Story Prize and Sean O’Faolain Short Story Prize. She was the inaugural Irish Writers Centre Roaming Writer in Residence on the trains of Ireland in 2019 and the Open Book Scotland Writer in Lockdown during 2020. She is currently writer in residence on an AHRC-funded research project at Queen’s University Belfast exploring the depiction of dementia in contemporary fiction and will be editing a collection of newly commissioned short stories exploring the dementia experience to be published in September 2022. Jan’s third novel, The Raptures is forthcoming from Doubleday in spring 2022.

Eli Davies is a Belfast-based writer and researcher who recently completed her PhD at Ulster University on women's personal and cultural memories of the home during the Troubles. Her interests include gender, literature and the politics and culture of domestic space and she has written for various publications including The Guardian, the Irish Times, the New Statesman and The Tangerine 

Sebastian Groes works as Professor of English Literature at the University of Wolverhampton where he leads the Arts and Humanities Research Council-funded research project Novel Perceptions: Towards an inclusive canon and undertakes research for BBC’s engagement project, Novels That Shaped Our World. Bas leads  The Memory Network, has published over ten academic books and edits a series on contemporary fiction for Bloomsbury Academic, Contemporary Critical Perspectives. His most recent book is Smell, Memory and Literature in the Black Country, and he’s just finished his first non-fiction book, Right in the Head.   

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