An Evening with Bestselling Author Louise Kennedy

Pictured Above: Louise Kennedy Photo Credit: Contributed.



Princeton, NJ – Princeton University’s Fund for Irish Studies continues its 2023-2024 series with a lecture and reading by Louise Kennedy, author of the bestselling novel Trespasses. Visiting Leonard L. Milberg ’53 Professor in Irish Letters Fintan O’Toole will introduce Kennedy at the event on November 10 at 4:30 p.m. at the James Stewart Film Theater at 185 Nassau Street.

Kennedy will present a lecture entitled “Trespasses: Fact, Fiction and Memory,” based on her acclaimed recent novel set in Northern Ireland during the Troubles that details how a young school teacher, Cushla, is caught between allegiance to community and a dangerous passion. At Princeton, Kennedy will read select passages from Trespasses and examine her use of news reports, family lore and her own childhood memories in creating a fictional account of ordinary lives blighted by sectarian and class conflict. Naming it among the Best Books of 2022, The Washington Post testifies to Kennedy’s attention to detail and notes Trespasses is “Brilliantly depicted…Kennedy has written a captivating first novel which manages to be beautiful and devastating in equal measure.”

Kennedy grew up a few miles from Belfast. She holds a Ph.D. from Queens University Belfast, where she was an inaugural Ciaran Carson Writing and the City Fellow in 2021. Her short story collection, The End of the World is a Cul de Sac, won the John McGahern Prize and will be published in the U.S. in December. A number one best seller, Trespasses won the British Book Awards Debut Novel of the Year, the An Post Irish Book Awards Novel of the Year, the Society of Authors McKitterick Prize, and the book was shortlisted for the Women’s Prize for Fiction and the Barnes & Noble Discover Prize. Before starting her writing career, Kennedy spent almost thirty years working as a chef. She lives in Sligo, Ireland. 

O’Toole’s books on politics include the recent best sellers We Don’t Know Ourselves: A Personal History of Modern Ireland and Heroic Failure: Brexit and the Politics of Pain. His books on theater include works on William Shakespeare, George Bernard Shaw, Richard Brinsley Sheridan, and Thomas Murphy. He regularly contributes to The New York Review of BooksThe New Yorker, GrantaThe GuardianThe Observer, and other international publications. In 2011, The Observer named O’Toole one of “Britain’s top 300 intellectuals.” He has received the A.T. Cross Award for Supreme Contribution to Irish Journalism, the Millennium Social Inclusion Award, Journalist of the Year in 2010, the Orwell Prize, and the European Press Prize. O’Toole’s History of Ireland in 100 Objects, which covers 100 highly charged artifacts from the last 10,000 years, is currently the basis for Ireland’s postage stampsHe has recently been appointed official biographer of Nobel Prize-winning poet Seamus Heaney. In 2023, O’Toole was named an International Honorary Member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.

The Fund for Irish Studies is chaired this year by O’Toole and affords all Princeton students, and the community at large, a wider and deeper sense of the languages, literatures, drama, visual arts, history, and economics not only of Ireland but of “Ireland in the world.” The lecture series is co-produced by the Lewis Center for the Arts.

The Fund for Irish Studies is generously sponsored by the Durkin Family Trust and the James J. Kerrigan Jr. ’45 and Margaret M. Kerrigan Fund for Irish Studies.

The event is free and open to the public; no tickets are required. The theater is an accessible venue, and guests in need of access accommodations are invited to contact the Lewis Center at at least one week prior to the event date.

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