Limerick literary critic turns a page with his first novel


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LIMERICK woman and literary critic Sarah Gilmartin turned a new leaf in her career with her first novel.

After making a name for herself as a fiction reviewer for the Irish Times, Sarah decided to try her hand at writing her own book.

Dinner Party: A Tragedy is the result of her leap of faith which she cultivated while studying for a Masters in Creative Writing at UCD.

Sarah said she developed the novel while participating in the course and the narrative developed from there.

“I wanted to write a book about family and got an idea for a story where a family member is having a dinner party for the others and things are happening below the surface.

“I grew up and developed the novel from that, I had the space to let it grow while I was in the class.”

Sarah was born and raised in Limerick before moving to Trinity College at 18 and has remained in Dublin ever since.

The Lisnagry woman thanks her English teacher from her high school days at Laurel Hill Colaiste for encouraging her.

“I had a brilliant English teacher at Coliaste, Sinéad Ní Chumhaill, she really introduced me to reading and writing.

“I’m a few years out of high school, but it’s a nice feeling to have written a book and done it. “

Sarah says writing the book was a little intimidating due to her career as a literary critic which, until then, had focused on reviewing early novels.

“I think they’re two very different disciplines, there are great fiction writers who don’t do well as critics and there are brilliant critics who can’t write novels themselves.

“There wasn’t too much pressure on me and I hoped I had learned a lot from the past seven or eight years by examining that it might have helped me in my own writing.”

The big question is, has she read the reviews of her own book?

“I said I wasn’t going to read the reviews, but ended up reading them all. Fortunately, they were positive!

“He was also shortlisted in the Newcomer category at the Irish Book Awards which is great.”

Sarah missed out on top spot in the awards last week, but her debut novel Dinner Party: A Tragedy is out now.

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