Belfast author Paul McVeigh is to be the centre of attention at one of the UK's longest-running cultural celebrations this year, with his debut novel The Good Son selected for the Brighton Festival's prestigious City Reads initiative.
Residents across the city will be encouraged to read the book, released in 2015 by Salt Publishing, in the lead up to a number of special events themed around its big-hearted, Troubles-set narrative.
Shortlisted for The Guardian's 'Not The Booker Prize', the coming-of-age story is told through the eyes of Mickey Donnelly, a boy who harbours dreams of escaping Ardoyne for America along with his mother and younger sister.
Delivered by award-winning literary organisation Collected Works CIC, City Reads is the longest running 'big read' in the UK, conceived to spread a love of books and ideas to the widest possible audience throughout Brighton and Hove, with a healthy reach into England's South East region.
From its launch on World Book Day (March 3) to Brighton Festival's closing event on May 29, there’s a wide range of events and discussions with highlights including an Irish Whiskey Tasting from top taster Dave Broom on St Patrick’s Day - with readings from The Good Son and live music, and a screening of Pat ‘O Connor’s 1984 film Cal to mark the official centenary of the 1916 Easter Rising (April 24).
Born in Belfast, McVeigh began his writing career as a playwright before moving to London where he wrote comedy shows. His short stories have been published in literary journals and anthologies, read on BBC Radio 5 and commissioned by BBC Radio 4. For the past number of years he has resided in Brighton.
'When I moved to Brighton a few years ago, one of the first things I did was volunteer for City Reads to celebrate books and get to know my new city,' McVeigh commented. 'Who could believe that just a few years later my book would be chosen and my adopted city would adopt me right back, that it will be part of the 50th anniversary of the Brighton Festival is such an honour. I can’t wait to get started.'
Sarah Hutchings, Artistic Director of City Reads said: 'Choosing one book for a whole city to read, share and celebrate is a wonderful thing because it brings people together. Paul McVeigh’s incredible book was the perfect choice, particularly as 2016 marks the centenary of the Easter Rising, a rebellion that led to the eventual signing of the Anglo Irish Treaty and the creation of Northern Ireland.
'I defy anyone not to fall in love with its protagonist Mickey Donnelly. He’s clever, naive and hilariously funny. I hope you love it as much as we do at City Reads.'
City Reads 2016 launches on March 3, with the Brighton Festival taking place between May 7 and 29. For more information visit www.brightonfestival.org. To stay up to date with Paul follow him on Twitter @Paul_Mc_Veigh.