Her Story: Doireann Ní Ghríofa and Emma Donoghue in Conversation

Sunday July 18, 2:00 p.m. EST (online)

“To study a female life marked by silence is to attempt a cartography of fog.” – Doireann Ní Ghríofa

Throughout history, the intricate and intimate details of women’s lives have too often been revealed only through the male gaze, if not altogether erased. Complex lives and experiences have been reduced to a name on a gravestone, a reference in a relative’s letter, or a fleeting mention in a newspaper clipping. Writers Emma Donoghue and Doireann Ní Ghríofa explore these gaps to find the stories within, re-imagining the lives of women long gone. Join the authors for a conversation about writing, research, unearthing the past, self-discovery, motherhood, art, memory, and the importance of amplifying women’s voices on and off the page.

This event includes closed captioning.




A Ghost in the Throat
By Doireann Ní Ghríofa
Published by Biblioasis

Post Irish Book Awards Nonfiction Book of the Year • A Guardian Best Book of 2020 • Shortlisted for the 2021 Rathbones Folio Prize • Shortlisted for the 2021 Republic of Consciousness Prize • Shortlisted for the James Tait Black Biography Prize • A New York Times New & Noteworthy Title

When we first met, I was a child, and she had been dead for centuries …

In 1773, an Irish noblewoman discovers her husband has been murdered. Grief-stricken, she kneels beside his body and drinks handfuls of his blood—and later composes the extraordinary poem Caoineadh Airt Uí Laoghaire, a keen to lament the dead that Peter Levi will famously call “the greatest poem written in either Ireland or Britain during the eighteenth century.” In the present day, a young mother narrowly avoids tragedy in her own life, and, upon rediscovering the poem she first read as a child, becomes obsessed with learning the full story of its composition.

In a kaleidoscopic blend of memoir, autofiction, and literary studies, Doireann Ní Ghríofa tells the mesmerizing story of her own self-discovery through her efforts to give voice to Eibhlín Dubh Ní Chonaill. A moving study of the power of language to transcend eras and draw together the intimate experiences of women’s lives, A Ghost in the Throat is an astonishing story about one woman freeing her voice by reaching into the past and finding another’s.

Doireann Ní Ghríofa is author of six critically-acclaimed books of poetry, whose awards include the Rooney Prize for Irish Literature and a Seamus Heaney Fellowship (Queen’s University). Her debut book of prose is the bestselling A Ghost in the Throat, which finds the 18th-century poet Eibhlín Dubh Ní Chonaill haunting the life of a contemporary young mother, prompting her to turn detective, and of which the Sunday Times writes: “Sumptuous, almost symphonic, in its intensity … As readers, we should be grateful for her boldness. Without it, we would not have had one of the best books of this dreadful year.”

The Pull of the Stars
By Emma Donoghue
Published by HarperCollins Canada

CBC Books: Best Canadian Fiction of 2020 • Globe & Mail 100: Our Favourite Books of 2020 • Kirkus Reviews Best Books of 2020 • NOW Toronto 10 Best Books of 2020 • Longlisted for the 2020 Scotiabank Giller Prize • 2021 Trillium Book Award Finalist

Dublin, 1918: three days in a maternity ward at the height of the Great Flu. A small world of work, risk, death and unlooked-for love, by the bestselling author of The Wonder and Room.

In an Ireland doubly ravaged by war and disease, Nurse Julia Power works at an understaffed hospital in the city center, where expectant mothers who have come down with the terrible new Flu are quarantined together. Into Julia’s regimented world step two outsiders—Doctor Kathleen Lynn, on the run from the police, and a young volunteer helper, Bridie Sweeney.

In the darkness and intensity of this tiny ward, over three days, these women change each other’s lives in unexpected ways. They lose patients to this baffling pandemic, but they also shepherd new life into a fearful world. With tireless tenderness and humanity, carers and mothers alike somehow do their impossible work.

In The Pull of the Stars, Emma Donoghue once again finds the light in the darkness in this new classic of hope and survival against all odds.

Born in Dublin in 1969, Emma Donoghue is an Irish emigrant twice over: she spent eight years in Cambridge, England, before moving to Canada’s London, Ontario. She is best known for her novels, which range from the historical (The Wonder, Slammerkin, Life Mask, The Sealed Letter) to the contemporary (Akin, Stir-Fry, Hood, Landing). Her international bestseller Room was a New York Times Best Book of 2010 and was a finalist for the Man Booker, Commonwealth, and Orange Prizes; her screen adaptation, directed by Lenny Abrahamson, was nominated for four Academy Awards.

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