Why ‘Gangrene’?

Why ‘Gangrene’?

Three weeks ago I reviewed a new novel, Gangrene, about a British army undercover soldier in Ireland in the 1990s. Here, the author, Aly Renwick, explains the background to his writing the book. I was born in 1944 towards the end of the Second World War and, from...

The Sad Story of Dimitrios Tsafendas

The Sad Story of Dimitrios Tsafendas

Tomorrow is the centenary of the birth of Dimitrios Tsafendas whose name probably means little to most people. But from first hearing and reading about him two decades ago I felt his story to be incredibly sad. When Dimitri was a young boy in Mozambique (he was born...

The Exemplar Robert Lynd

The Exemplar Robert Lynd

For Christmas, my old friend Tom Hartley gave me an old copy of an old book written in 1919, Ireland A Nation by Robert Lynd, who was born into a Presbyterian household in 1879. In my book All The Dead Voices I devote a chapter to Lynd who was buried in Belfast’s City...

Brian, Stano and Rudi

Brian, Stano and Rudi

This is about Brian Palm, Stano and Rudi, so stick with the route, however circuitous! A few months ago I finished writing my play Inmates about characters in an old people’s home, present-day Ireland. The play grew out of the final chapters of my novel Rudi and I...

‘I Am Not Your Negro’

‘I Am Not Your Negro’

It was James Baldwin who wrote: “Not everything that is faced can be changed, but nothing can be changed until it is faced.” This fascinating little book has emerged from Raoul Peck’s eponymous 2016 film based on texts by Baldwin, including thirty pages of letters,...

A Woman In Berlin

A Woman In Berlin

When Soviet troops invaded Germany and overthrew Hitler in 1945, Germans, particularly those in Berlin, knew there would be a reckoning for the death, suffering and pillage their army had inflicted on Russia and the people of the east. Exultant in victory, and usually...

A New Dawn

A New Dawn

My friend Glenn Bradley has written this political (and personal) feature reflecting on the disaster that is Brexit, the failures of 2017 and his wishes for a new dawn in 2018. A New Dawn This time last year I sat in the Eastside Visitors Centre chatting with a dear...

Arms And The Man

Arms And The Man

Today in 1989 playwright Václav Havel became President of Czechoslovakia. Two years later, in June 1991, I write about him in a letter to my partner which appears in my book, Then The Walls Came Down: 29 June 1991 I read a review of Open Letters by Vaclav Havel, the...

The Cover-Up

The Cover-Up

A British intelligence officer, Ginge, is lying in hospital in England after just about surviving a booby-trap bomb which exploded under his car outside his cottage near the former coal-mining village of Bloodworth. It is 1994, just months before the IRA ceasefire...

Hidden Wounds

Hidden Wounds

I saw on Twitter today for the first time the testimony of a clearly traumatised and disturbed Israeli soldier, Ido Gal Razon, who killed over forty Palestinians in Gaza. It can be seen here Shortly, I'll be reviewing a novel by a former British soldier Aly Renwick....