On Tuesday, March 31st, we welcomed one of Ireland’s most prestigious contemporary writers into our midst. Novelist Claire Kilroy came to UConn to be the Gerson Irish Reader, marking her as the first to writer to be repeatedly featured by the program.
The Gerson Irish Reader Program first began in 1997, in honor of Elizabeth Shanley Gerson, an alumna who received her Bachelor’s degree and Masters of Social Work degree from UConn. The program is sponsored by her family, and is sustained through the efforts of both the Irish Studies and Creative Writing departments. It has involved fantastic writers like Edna O’Brien, Colum McCann, and Glenn Patterson, to name a few. Claire Kilroy joined this group of featured writers in 2009, shortly after her second novel Tenderwire received international praise. She returned to UConn this year, after the publication of her fourth successful novel The Devil I Know.
The reading began at 7pm in the Alumni Center, a decent-sized building that you can easily walk by in your rush to get to the heart of the Storrs campus. I seriously recommend stopping by, if only to wander around in its cozy interior. On Tuesday night, it was the place to be! Men and women packed into the Center’s Great Hall, navigating to open seats or taking advantage of the free beverages and drinks being provided.
After people took their seats, Mary Burke, a professor of English and director of the Irish literature concentration program, gave a heartwarming introduction for her friend, praising Kilroy’s writing style and detailing her accomplishments, of which there are many. When Kilroy finally took to the podium, a heady mixture of anticipation and cheerfulness filled the room, and everyone quieted to hear her read passages from The Devil I Know.
After her reading, Kilroy interacted at length with the audience, discussing her writing style and the inspirations behind her work. It was a pleasure to glimpse the inner workings of her mind, and to get a behind-the-scenes feel for her writing!
*** For more information about the Gerson Irish Literature Reading and other related events, be sure to check out the Irish Studied Alliance website!! (http://irishstudiesalliance.rso.uconn.edu)
***To check out some of Claire Kilroy’s novels, click on the pictures below!