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Carson with Book

NYU Washington, DC, the Northern Ireland Bureau, and Solas Nua welcome Jan Carson, recipient of the EU Prize for Literature Ireland 2019 for her novel, The Firestarters, and writer and community arts facilitator based in Belfast, to an evening Salon Series conversation.

The aim of the European Union Prize for Literature (EUPL) is to put the spotlight on the creativity and diverse wealth of Europe’s contemporary literature in the field of fiction, to promote the circulation of literature within Europe and to encourage greater interest in non-national literary works. The works of the selected winners (one per country participating in the Prize on a rotation basis) reach a wider and international audience, and touch readers beyond national and linguistic borders. Carson will discuss her most recent work in this evening's discussion.

Please note that this program may be filmed and/or photographed.


Jan Carson

Jan Carson

Jan Carson's first novel, Malcolm Orange Disappears was published by Liberties Press in 2014 to critical acclaim, followed by a short story collection, Children’s Children in 2016, and a flash fiction anthology, Postcard Stories (2017): every day in 2015 Jan Carson wrote a short story on the back of a postcard and mailed it to a friend. Each of these tiny stories was inspired by an event, an overheard conversation, a piece of art or just a fleeting glance of something worth thinking about further. The success of this collection lead to Jan Carson becoming the Irish Writers Centre’s first Roaming Writer-In-Residence, 2018, working with aspirant authors who also created ‘postcard stories’.

The Firestarters book cover

The core story of this novel is that of two fathers living in Belfast during a summer of deep discontent and social unrest. Against a background of riots and arson, not to mention the huge bonfires of the Orange marches around the Twelfth of July commemorations, Jonathan and Sammy face a crisis. For Jonathan, the moment has come which could transform his life from one of melancholic withdrawal from society to one which embraces opportunities to connect with the people around him. Jonathan is the sole-parent of a new born baby and the question he has to struggle with is whether to permit the love and pleasure he experiences with the child to obstruct the fact that his daughter has attributes inherited from her mother, a Siren. For Sammy, the crisis concerns his full-grown son, who has all the characteristics of the murderous qualities Sammy himself exhibited in his own youth, with none of the redeeming traits that have led Sammy to search for a way to contain his own violent impulses. Sammy is convinced that his son is the ringleader behind the arson campaign. Should he act on this? Report his own son to the police? Their paths crossing in a doctor’s surgery, Sammy and Jonathan take something from their encounters to move each towards a decisive resolution.


The NYU Washington, DC Salon Series: Conversations with Writers & Artists presents an opportunity for the NYU and Washington, DC community to meet and engage in dialogue with acclaimed writers and artists as they reflect on their craft. This program provides facilitated conversations that aim to illuminate the guests’ creative processes, discuss their current works, and explain the impact of their work on the world around us. The Salon Series is made possible by NYU Washington, DC through the collaboration of NYU schools, departments and centers, as well as through special relationships with selected external organizations.

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