BACKFinished Kafka on the Shore by Haruki Murakami. And I am left scratching my head and asking myself what was it all about. It wasn’t so much the talking cats that I had a problem with or that the eponymous 15-year-old character had sex with his mother and sister (though I suppose I should have found that disquieting). Or that a cat killer who might be Kafka’s father plans to make a flute out of cats’ souls (though I don’t know what that means at all). It’s just that I got the impression that the author set out with a preposterous plot and post-modernist intentions, tossed in a lot of symbolism, and refused to compromise. I’m wondering did he ever experience major doubts along the way?

Of course, how I read it is not how many critics and readers found the novel, however. The late John Updike described it as a “real page turner”. (Using a Kindle Reader for only the second time I could say in post-modernist jest, that it certainly was not “a real page tapper”.)

2nd October. The feature I wrote yesterday on Eamonn Mallie’s website and my own, warning that the northern assembly might collapse and that unionists should not take the situation for granted, received a lot of media attention. I was interviewed by Mark Devenport for BBC television and by Stephen Nolan for Radio Ulster.

28th September. Spoke at the Engage Arts Festival in Bandon on the subject of ‘Art as a Bridge through Conflict’. Also on the panel were the artist Sean Hillen (whose website is well worth looking at ); Ulster Unionist Councillor Chris McGimpsey (who can be very funny) and a representative of the Progressive Unionist Party, Jonathan Hodge from Larne. In fact, some of the exchanges about the North and claims of a campaign of attacks on Orange culture prompted me to write the piece I submitted to Eamonn Mallie’s website.

29th September. Did a late night reading from Rudi at a nice little intimate venue – the upstairs of Mary Rose’s Wine Bar, Bandon. Part of the Engage Arts Festival.

24th September. Interviewed by BBC’s Spotlight, which next week celebrates its fortieth anniversary. I remember watching the first Spotlight programmes in Cage 2, Long Kesh, 1973, on a black & white television along with dozens of other internees.

18th – 20th September. In Malta at the invitation of a London-based organization, ENGI, a ‘social enterprise that focuses on the effective and non-violent management of conflict, nationally and internationally.’ We were there to talk to Turkish and Greek Cypriot groups from civic society about peace-building models and engagement. Other speakers included Jeffrey Donaldson DUP MP and Rolf Meyer from South Africa and two representatives from Bosnia Herzegovina.

14th September. Finished Norwegian Wood by Haruki Murakami. Sushi, sex & suicide. But liked it!