Dublin: One City One Book is a brilliant initiative, started 11 years ago by Dublin City Libraries. The idea is to unite people every April to read one book associated with the city of Dublin. Previous books that book clubs have joined together to read include novels by Dublin authors including Lia Mills, Roddy Doyle, James Joyce, Bram Stoker, Oscar Wilde and Flann O’Brien. This year’s book is Echoland by Joe Joyce – a gripping thriller set in Dublin during World War Two.
Joe Joyce is the author of five thrillers: Echoland, Echobeat and Echowave (all set during the Second World War in Dublin); The Trigger Man and Off The Record; a history/biography of The Guinnesses and a critically acclaimed play, The Tower, about James Joyce and Oliver St John Gogarty. He also has worked as a journalist for The Irish Times, The Guardian, and Reuters news agency.
He is delighted that his novel has been chosen as this year’s book. He said: “I’m delighted and honoured that Echoland will be Dublin’s One City One Book for 2017. The city is an integral part of the book, not just the backdrop to a spy story. As I was writing it, I was very conscious of the hardships and great dangers of the Emergency period, faced — as always by Dubliners — with resilience and wit.”
Echoland is set in June 1940. With France teetering on the brink of collapse, British troops are desperately fleeing Dunkirk and Germany is winning the war. Its next target is Britain and Ireland. In neutral Dublin, opinions are divided. Some want Germany to win, others favour Britain, while most want to stay out of the war altogether.
In this atmosphere of edgy uncertainty, young lieutenant Paul Duggan is drafted into G2, the army’s intelligence division and is given a suspected German spy to investigate. Before he can probe further, he is diverted by a request from his politician uncle to try and find his daughter, who’s gone missing, possibly kidnapped. Enlisting the help of witty Special Branch detective Peter Gifford, the two lines of inquiry take Duggan into the double-dealing worlds of spies and politics.
There will be a range of interesting events taking place over the course of the festival that tie in with the book. Every Thursday this month, festival goers can enjoy a two hour walkabout of the Air Corps Museum in Baldonnel with Airman Michael J. Whelan as he introduces the dawning and evolution of Irish and world military and civilian aviation.
Well-known historian and guide (and Travel Ireland columnist) Pat Liddy will lead a walk around the significant Dublin landmarks in Echoland, with a focus on the Emergency period, while on Tuesday 25 April in the Dublin City Library, authors Sinead Crowley and Joe Joyce talk about the challenges of writing fiction set in different time periods.
There will be a fascinating talk about spies in 1940s Ireland in Dublin Castle on Monday, 10 April. Eunan O’Halpin, Professor of Contemporary Irish History, TCD, will discuss the theme of neutrality in wartime. German and British covert activities and IRA efforts to help Hitler by passing war information will be discussed, as will the work of Irish security in thwarting such activities.
All of these events are free of charge but booking is essential as demand is sure to be high. Booking can be made at www.dublinonecityonebook.ie/programme where you can also find details of all of the other wonderful events happening this month. So grab your copy of Echoland and get involved as Dublin once again celebrates One City One Book.