Stinging Fly podcast is bringing the buzz back to Irish literature

Aine O'Boyle

The Stinging Fly podcast is revolutionising the discussion of contemporary Irish literature to suit a modern audience.

Established in 1997, The Stinging Fly has consolidated itself as a leading platform in the promotion of up-and-coming talent among the Irish literature scene.

In 2011, author of the two best-selling novels, Conversations with Friends and Normal People, Sally Rooney, was appointed as editor of the magazine and host of its accompanying podcast.

Rooney made her debut with The Stinging Fly back in 2010 with two poems that she submitted whilst she was still in secondary school in County Mayo.

Since then she has gone on to have work published in The Dublin Review, The New Yorker and Winter Papers along with writing two best-selling novels.

The podcast, hosted by Rooney, is released on a monthly basis and each episode features a new Irish writer of whom is invited to select a story from The Stinging Fly archives and to discuss and analyse it through facilitated conversation.

“Like most readers, I’m interested in writing that addresses life as it’s lived today – whether directly or indirectly. In particular, I’ll be looking out for work that combines original literary style with a real understanding of people and communities” said Rooney.

The first episode of the podcast was aired 16 March 2017 and featured Rob Doyle reading a story by Philip O’Ceallaigh that was published in The Stinging Fly.

An interesting aspect of the podcast is that everyone involved in it is a distinguished writer, from the host to the guest and the writer of whom is having their work discussed.

This allows for extremely insightful and engaging conversation and allows the listener to feel as though they are catching a glimpse into the minds of some of the greatest Irish writers of a generation.

Rooney has been hailed as a “Salinger for the snapchat generation” and Rob Doyle, the guest on the first podcast is also a highly esteemed writer in his own rite with his debut novel, Here Are the Young Men, being deemed as one of the twenty great Irish novels from 1916 to 2016.

This was followed shortly after by his second book, This is the Ritual, in January 2016. Both pieces of literature were published by Bloomsbury and Dublin’s Lilliput Press.

His fiction essays and criticism have appeared in publications such as Vice and The Dublin Review, to name but a few.

In a particularly interesting episode of the podcast, Emilie Pine, bestselling author of the essay collection Notes to Self, joins Rooney in the discussion of on an essay published by Julian Gough, entitled How to Edit Your Own Lousy Writing.

For any aspiring writers or journalists, this is a particularly interesting listen as both Pine and Rooney agree that achieving perfection in your writing takes time, and that one simply won’t be able to produce a best-selling novel or piece of literature in one draft.

Both Rooney and Pine highlighted the innate desire for appraisal that is a driving force behind a writer and serves as one of their main motivations.

“If we didn’t care if something failed or not then it would be sloppy” said Rooney.
Aine O’Boyle
Image Credit: Stinging Fly