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Book Talk, Mary O'Donoghue, Before the House Burns

Wednesday, September 22, 2010 - 6:00pm to 7:30pm

Before the House BurnsImage courtesy of Lilliput Press

Set on Ireland’s Atlantic coast, Before the House Burns is the first novel by the award-winning short story writer and poet Mary O’Donoghue. The novel concerns the lives of its three young narrators, who are children of a bereaved father and witnesses to ashared grief. The novel’s publisher, Lilliput Press, describes the work as “a nuanced and heart-breaking account of one family’s struggle—for work, shelter and happiness” and a “story of what happens when self-sustenance turns to isolation, a story about the hard scrabble to find a home.” O’Donoghue, who teaches at Babson College and is a Boston Athenæum member,as already achieved acclaim for her debut novel:The Irish Post called Before the House Burns “haunting,evocative and unique,” and Booker-prizewinning Irish author Anne Enright praised it as “electric, real, utterly modern: this is a voice to welcome and to watch.”



Image courtesy of Miguel Rivera. Mary O’Donoghue was born in 1975 and grew up in County Clare. Her short stories have been published in Agni, Salamander, The Dublin Review, Literary Imagination, and elsewhere. Her awards for fiction include the Hennessy/Sunday Tribune New Irish Writer laurel, and a writer’s bursary from the Massachusetts Cultural Council. She is the author of the poetry collections Tulle (Salmon Poetry, 2001) and Among These Winters (Dedalus Press, 2007). She teaches in the Arts and Humanities division at Babson College, and lives in Boston.

To Reserve: This event is open to the public. The fee is $10 for members, and $15 for non-members. Reservations are required but cannot be accepted until Wednesday, September 14. Please call the Athenæum’s reservation line, (617)720-7600.

Mary O'Donoghue's book will be on sale after her lecture through the Globe Corner Book Store.

Mary O'Donoghue and the Boston Athenaeum

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Auto-generated captions are available for most virtual programs. To request live captioning or other accommodations, please contact Hannah Weisman at or 617-720-7617 at least four business days prior to the event.