Dermot Bolger

Dermot Bolger was born in Finglas, north Dublin in 1959, founded The Raven Arts Press while still a schoolboy, became a factory hand in 1977 and since then has been a major force at the cutting edge of Irish writing as a playwright, novelist, poet and editor.

His eight plays, including The Lament for Arthur Cleary, In High Germany and The Passion of Jerome, have received The Samuel Beckett Award, two Edinburgh Fringe Firsts, The BBC Stewart Parker Prize and the O.Z. Whitehead Award, while he has been Playwright in Association with the Abbey Theatre in Dublin.

His seven novels, including The Journey Home, A Second Life and Father’s Music have received the A.E. Memorial Prize and Macauley Fellowship, have been shortlisted for the Irish Times/Aer Lingus Fiction Prize and Hughes Fiction Prize, and been translated into many languages. Casting a controversial look at Irish life, his examination of the corrupt underbelly of Irish public life has been vindicated by recent revelation and tribunals of inquiry in Ireland.

He is the originator and editor of the bestselling collaborative novels Finbar’s Hotel and Ladies Night at Finbar’s Hotel, to which he cajoled and coerced such leading Irish writers as Roddy Doyle, Maeve Binchy, Joseph O’Connor, Emma Donoghue and Colm Toibin into contributing chapters.

Translated into ten languages (including Japanese and Serbian) both books display Bolger’s fascination with hotels (and Ladies Night his fascination with using the voice of women) which has come to its full flowering in Temptation, the story of the tempting of a happily married woman set in a thinly disguised version of one of Ireland’s most famous hotels.

Raven Arts Press (which he closed down in 1992) was one of Ireland’s most radical publishers, providing a platform for a whole generation of new Irish writers like Patrick McCabe, Colm Toibin, Eoin Mcnamee, Sara Berkeley and others, as well as opening up new and controversial dark areas of Irish life in memoirs like Paddy Doyle’s The God Squad.

In 1992 he co-founded New Island Books (of which he is executive editor), which has been a major force in Irish publishing, originating such international bestsellers as Joseph O’Connor’s The Secret World of the Irish Male and Nuala O’Failain’s stunning memoir of the life of an Irishwoman, Are you Somebody? New Island have just launched Open Book, the first ever series of novels for adults with reading difficulties, to which Bolger, Roddy Doyle and many well known Irish writers have contributed, with royalties going to charity.

A poet (whose Selected Poems appeared in 1998), he is editor of many anthologies, including the recently issued New Picador Book of Contemporary Irish Fiction. Dermot Bolger lives in Dublin.

Books by Dermot Bolger