John Boyne, the renowned Irish writer, well-loved for writing books such as The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas, which was a hit, a massive seller and subsequently a film adaptation, spoke passionately at the concluding part of Glasgow’s Aye Write festival. Injecting the literature festival with an overpowering love for his position and frustrations with the genre-defining changes to the book trade, which transcends to bookshop shelves, Boyne was the inspiring full stop that any festival would wish to have.
Born in Ireland in 1971, John Boyne is the successful winner of three Irish Book Awards, the author of ten novels for adults, five for younger readers and if that was not enough, a collection of short stories. Having been translated and published in over fifty languages, he is an international face in the book world. It was a great honour to be sat amongst other readers and authors to hear the writer talk.
Promoting his new title, published by Doubleday, The Heart’s Invisible Furies, he read a couple of extracts. The first was when the main character was merely seven and the other, seven years later, when Cyril was fourteen (as Boyne admits, he structures it across seventy years, seven years at a time) depicting a young boy lost within the context of a Catholic Ireland, which won’t condone his lust for men. However, these readings certainly set off eruptions of laughter, as there is a comic humour to this title, which proves that Boyne does not simply tackle important issues with his titles, he does it with witty finesse in the case of Cyril.
It almost has a Secret Diary of Adrian Mole or Paddy Clarke Ha Ha Ha feel to it, but with enough graphic content to render it more of an adult read. This topic of content is also touched upon within his talk as he discusses this need of booksellers and publishers to differentiate a child’s book from an adult’s, “they are just books, books about adults and books about children” as he argues that there is too much of a concern surrounding this. In terms of what he wants to cover, he mentions, “I want to write about serious subjects” and I am sure that this will never change.
However, I did enjoy this comic element to Boyne’s literary repertoire, which can often have a more powerful impact than the more serious. I very much look forward to reading this novel.
The Heart’s Invisible Furies was published by Doubleday on 9th February 2017.