Northern Ireland, for such a small country, is absolutely brimming with talent. With a diverse range of gifted writers, actors and musicians, our wee country is very much on the cultural map.
One of my favourite local authors is Stuart Neville, who hails from Armagh. I still remember reviewing his debut novel, The Twelve, for Ulster Tatler and being in awe of how effortlessly he wove together several strands to tell a thrilling tale, how he created fully fleshed characters as well as how he brought the city of Belfast to life on the page.
I have had the pleasure of attending several of Stuart’s book launches and readings over the years since, and it is so evident that he is not only a skilled storyteller and musician but that he is also a genuinely nice guy with a super sense of humour.
I adore seeing people from Northern Ireland do good, and when I heard today’s news that Stuart’s most recent novel, Those We Left Behind, has been selected for this summer’s Richard and Judy Book Club, I could not have been more delighted.
The Richard and Judy Book Club has changed the landscape of UK publishing since it was first launched in 2004 by media personalities Richard Madeley and Judy Finnigan, so much so that it consistently attracts the creme de la creme of authors. Since 2009, the book club has been run in partnership with WH Smith, with eight titles chosen each season to be promoted across the UK. Stuart’s sixth crime novel, which was published in paperback today (May 5th) to coincide with the launch of the summer 2016 Book Club, will feature alongside books by John Grisham (Rogue Lawyer), Dawn French (According to Yes) and Paula Hawkins (The Girl on the Train).
In addition to Those We Left Behind being a part of the Richard and Judy Book Club, Stuart is also celebrating the long-listing of his previous novel, The Final Silence, for the Theakstons Old Peculier Crime Novel of the Year award alongside books by JK Rowling (as Robert Galbraith), Mark Billingham and Val McDermid.
Having watched Stuart Neville evolve throughout his literary career, it is fantastic to see such recognition being attributed to his work. He is local talent but his work stands shoulder to shoulder with international greats, receiving praise from Dennis Lehane, Ian Rankin and king of noir, James Ellroy. I know any fan of Stuart’s will be pleased, like me, to see his career continue to go from strength to strength. And for those new to his works, you are in for a treat.
Those We Left Behind is out now and Stuart’s seventh novel, So Say the Fallen, is scheduled for publication this July. Fans of Stuart Neville can check him out in the flesh when he will be interviewing best-selling British crime novelist Mark Billingham at Tandragee Library on Wednesday 11th May at 2.00pm. For more information visit Tadragee Library’s Facebook page.
To celebrate the summer 2016 book list, WHSmith has revealed a new, fresh look to the Book Club, both in store and on its website: