Evelyn Conlon

Evelyn Conlon is an Irish novelist and short story writer.

She is an elected member of Aosdána, the Irish association which honours distinguished artistic work. She has been writer-in-residence in colleges in many countries, at University College Dublin and is currently Adjunct Professor and Mentor with Carlow University Pittsburgh MFA.

Born in Co. Monaghan, she lives in Dublin and has a deep interest in Australia where she lived in the early 1970s. A clear-sighted, observant and unsentimental thinker, her work is marked by originality and wit.

Reading Rites

Books, writing and other things that matter

In Reading Rites, Evelyn Conlon brings her characteristic wit and keen intelligence to the task of exploring her writing life, drawing out the events, people, books and concerns that have helped to make her the writer she is.

Using the lens of her own life as a starting point, she considers a vast array of subjects, including education; the effects of the Catholic Church, particularly on the lives of women; the legacy of historical moments such as 1916; and, through it all, the power of books to free us, to offer understanding, and to help us to see outside and beyond ourselves.

Part memoir, part manifesto, Reading Rites is full of the sharp observation, restless questioning and hard-won wisdom that make Conlon one of Ireland’s finest and most compelling writers.

Listen to excerpts from the book, read by Evelyn Conlon, in 10 episodes, on RTE's Book on One.

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Telling Truths: Evelyn Conlon and the Task of Writing

edited by M. Teresa Caneda-Cabrera

In her recent conversation with M. Teresa Caneda-Cabrera, Evelyn Conlon discussed the impact of the lockdowns and her aversion to ‘doomscrolling’; being a writer who is a feminist and being political by engaging in stories that are not considered the norm; using literature to dip into the corridors of truth while history sticks to the facts; reworking Joyce’s story ‘Two Gallants’; and being more Irish when you are away from Ireland. The author also read two excerpts from her work.

Irish Times review (subscriber only)

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Moving About the Place

This collection of eleven stories is a compelling exploration of what comes from moving about the place. Evelyn Conlon vividly imagines her characters all over the world: Australia, Indonesia, Japan, Italy, Monaco, in a house with two drills of vegetables in Skerries. A couple spend their lives wandering around the equator because of a lie they told during anti-apartheid days; somebody holds out in a border-straddling tree; a woman from Hiroshima makes the decision to get pregnant; an Irishwoman attempts to assassinate Mussolini, another fights for women’s suffrage in Australia. Brilliantly written, witty, and full of the sharp observation for which Conlon is well known, Moving About the Place brings together some of the best of her recent work, along with brand-new stories, including a novella, to show how borders, movement and history change and transform people’s lives.

‘No one has a voice like Evelyn Conlon. She comes from an odd angle that suddenly seems like the only angle worthwhile.’ Martina Evans, Irish Times

Now available at Blackstaff and Kindle.

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Not the Same Sky

Evelyn Conlon's most recent novel Not the Same Sky  (2013 & 2015) steps back in time to tell the story of four young women who were among the 4,000 orphaned Irish girls shipped to Australia following the Great Famine of 1847.

She observes them on the voyage, examines their relationship with Surgeon Superintendent Charles Strutt, and follows them from Sydney as they become women of Australia, negotiating their new circumstances with emotion, imagination and pragmatism.

An elegant and subtle novel, this is a powerful tale of memory and the ability of the mind to shut out the past. It uses a stark, poetic intensity suffused with understated humour to shape its characters' human presence and historical importance. A conscientious researcher, her talks in Australian Universities addressed the topic ‘Corridors of Truth, what Fiction adds to History’.


Skin of Dreams

Her earlier novel, Skin of Dreams, shortlisted for Irish Novel of the year, dealt with the profundity of Capital Punishment, and brought her on to Death Row in the United States. Previous novels Stars in the Daytime and A Glassful of Letters explore the social and political dilemmas which mould personalities, lives, loves and hates. She has published three collections of short stories, My Head is OpeningTaking Scarlet as a Real Colour, the title story of which was performed at the Edinburgh Theatre Festival, and Telling - New and Selected short stories. These have been widely anthologised and translated into Italian, French, German and Tamil. Telling has been published in Chinese as a Classic Collection.


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Purchasing, E-Books and Reprints

Books available online: Not the Same Sky, Skin of Dreams, Cutting the Night in Two, Telling and A Glassful of Letters.

Telling and A Glassful of Letters were republished by Books Upstairs in 2015

Not the Same Sky is available as a kindle ebook.