Big names lined up for Ireland’s Dalkey Book Festival

The Dalkey Book Festival, held in Dalkey, a suburb of Dublin, Ireland is hosting myriad speakers and authors this June including Sally Rooney, John Banville, Fiona Hill, Simon Schama, and Catherine Belton.

Over 100 of the world’s finest authors and sharpest intellects will descend on the beautiful and historic seaside town of Dalkey, County Dublin this summer.

Christ Church Cathedral

This year the Dalkey Book Festival are bringing you a virtual experience – Dalkey Book Festival @ The Tower presented by Zurich. Three days of dynamic programming connecting you to their community of writers, thought leaders, entrepreneurs, and creative talent as they exchange ideas, challenge the status quo, and dismantle some of today’s most pressing topics.

The festival will be streamed at approximately the following times each day; Friday 18 June 18:00 – 20:45 Saturday 19 June 13:00 – 19:45 Sunday 20 June 13:00 – 19:30.

The festival makes a welcome return live and in-person from 16 – 19 June, with a stellar line-up that includes the likes of novelists Sally Rooney, John Banville and Marian Keyes, satirist Blindboy, DJ Annie Mac and many more. See the Dalkey Book Festival program.

Over four days, writers from Turkey, America, Scotland, Australia, Sudan, England, Iran, Afghanistan, Russia, France, Germany, Albania, Pakistan, China, Italy and Ireland will come together in Dalkey for a wildly varied programme of over 80 events.

In what could be one of the most pivotal years in global history, the 2022 festival brings together thinkers from the worlds of literature, politics, science, history, journalism, technology and economics.

Brian Eno on art and education – Dalkey Book Festival

In literature, festival-goers will be able to get up close to Normal People writing sensation Sally Rooney, who is making a rare public appearance. The TV adaptation of her debut novel Conversations with Friends is currently running on the BBC and Hulu in the US.

As Dublin, Ireland and the world celebrates the 100th centenary of James Joyce’s masterpiece Ulysses, Dalkey Book Festival will feature two related events on 16 June, which in Ireland is Bloomsday, the day all the action of Joyce’s novel takes place.

Preeminent English intellectual Simon Schama comes to Dalkey Book for a Bloomsday Gala, while Irish actor Eamonn Morrissey will perform excerpts from Joyce that celebrate the ordinary and the everyday in experience, culture and language.

In politics and world affairs, US National Security adviser and Russia specialist Fiona Hill will fly in to deliberate on understanding Russia, while Catherine Belton will discuss her bestseller, Putin’s People, which explores the world’s most dangerous mind and network.

Ireland’s most renowned immunologist Luke O’Neill will take audiences through the wonders of science in a digestible and accessible way, and there will also be comedy, podcasts, writing workshops, events for all the family, and much more.

Snippets from past speakers

The festival has established itself as a highlight of the Irish cultural calendar, not least because of the unique buzz only Dalkey can offer. With its mediaeval town centre and magnificent coastline, it is the town that makes the festival so special.

Fáilte Ireland Dublin City South

Dalkey’s rich history is front and centre, with a tenth-century church and two Norman castles right on the main street. From the town, it’s a short walk to the harbour, where you can take a boat trip to Dalkey Island, or take a walk on  Killiney Hill, one of the best walks in the whole of Dublin.

Sunrise, Dalkey Island, Co Dublin

On Saturday 18 June, with the shortlists already out, Dalkey Book Festival will announce the winners of its 2022 ‘Novel of the Year’ and ‘Emerging Writer’ Awards, with a prize fund of €30,000.

Up for Novel of the Year are April in Spain by John Banville, Beautiful World, Where Are You by Sally Rooney, Nora by Nuala O’Connor, Small Things Like These by Claire Keegan, and White City by Kevin Power.

The Emerging Writer contestants are A Crooked Tree by Una Mannion, Bright Burning Things by Lisa Harding, Eat Or We Both Starve by Victoria Kennefick, The End of the World is a Cul de Sac by Louise Kennedy and Unsettled by Rosaleen McDonagh.

Dalkey Book Festival 2022

Niksen: The Dutch Art of Doing Nothing

“I believe we’ve forgotten how to do things just because, not without any larger purpose like becoming healthier. We run or walk because we want to reach a certain number of steps and not because it feels good. The same way, we can do nothing because it feels nice and not because it will offer us certain benefits–even if it might.”

       “This isn’t getting the work of the world done,” my mother would announce to no one in particular whenever she had sat for more than a few minutes.  Whatever the work of the world was—and I never quite figured it out– since my mom had a full-time job, grew roses, looked after my grandmother who lived next door, took Judo classes, cooked Julia Child-style dinners, and co-led my Girl Scout Troop, it certainly meant she couldn’t sit around

       If only mom had met Olga Mecking, author of Niksen: The Dutch Art of Doing Nothing (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt 2021; $11.58 Amazon price).

       Niksen isn’t about getting the work of the world done. Indeed, it’s not about any work at all. Instead, niksen is doing nothing, according to Mecking. And no that doesn’t mean vegging out on the couch watching the entire last season of “Homecoming” or reading posts on Facebook.

“It is doing nothing without a purpose,” she says. “I believe we’ve forgotten how to do things just because, not without any larger purpose like becoming healthier. We run or walk because we want to reach a certain number of steps and not because it feels good. The same way, we can do nothing because it feels nice and not because it will offer us certain benefits–even if it might.”

Mecking, the mother of three children, who lives in the Netherlands and works as a translator and freelance writer, says doing nothing comes naturally to her.

“As a child, I loved sitting around in my father’s favorite armchair and just daydreaming,” says Mecking. whose article on niksen in the New York Times garnered 150,000 shares in just a few days after it was published indicating an embrace of the concept.  “But since I became a mom, it became really hard to do nothing. But I also realized that I niks around quite a lot even if these are in-between moments like when I’m waiting for my kids to come home or taking the tram on the way to run some errands. So maybe I don’t have many long stretches of time. but I do have many short moments – enough to do nothing.”

Not me. I often find myself repeating my mother’s phrase.  Though I continue to wonder what the work of the word really entails, I know that it won’t get done if I’m sitting. I ask Mecking, if I’ll ever be able to shed my past and be able to niks?

   “It can be very hard, and I think especially for women, it can be even harder,” says Mecking about the struggle to just do nothing. “Simply because we do more work that’s unpaid and unsatisfying. Men protect their own free time and women protect men’s free time and kids’ free time, but no one protects the free time of women.”

   But there’s hope.

   “I think it would help us to re-frame doing nothing and to think of it as something valuable,” she says. “For example, if you can tell yourself that if you do nothing now then you can do better work later on, that’s already a big step. If we can learn to value niksen and downtime and taking time off the same way as we value work that would be great.  We can try reframing doing nothing and describe it as something that we need, like food or water. Think about it. Our bodies can’t work all day long without a break, no? The same way, our brains can’t either. It is impossible to expect people to be working with their brains all day long, be it at work or at home.”

       But whether you can niks or not niks, it’s okay says Mecking.

   “Sometimes it just doesn’t work,” she says. “Maybe it won’t work for you. It doesn’t mean that you’re a loser. You have to find a way to relax that works for you, and if that’s doing nothing then awesome, but if that’s going for a run that is great too! But if you want to try niksen, start slow, and take a look at how you spend your time. You might find that you do more nothing that you realize.”

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