We are very pleased to welcome Jan Carson back to the CCI following her residency here in 2020. One of the up-and-coming writers of her generation, Jan’s second novel The Fire Starters is being published in French translation by Sabine Wespieser éditeur. It has gained significant critical acclaim as well as winning the 2019 European Union Prize for Literature and being shortlisted for the Dalkey Book Prize.
Set in Belfast 2014, during the marching season, the core story of the novel is that of two fathers living through a summer of deep discontent and social unrest. Against a background of riots and arson, not to mention the huge bonfires of the Orange marches around the Twelfth of July commemorations, Jonathan and Sammy face a crisis. For Jonathan, the birth of his daughter could transform his life from one of melancholic withdrawal to embracing opportunities to connect with the people around him. For Sammy, the crisis concerns his full-grown son, who has all the murderous qualities Sammy himself exhibited in his own youth, with none of the redeeming traits that have led Sammy to search for a way to contain them. Sammy is convinced that his son is the ringleader behind the arson campaign. Should he report his own son to the police? The men’s paths cross in a doctor’s surgery and the encounter could just move each one towards a decisive resolution.