Paul McVeigh's debut The Good Son is chosen for City Reads 2016

Brighton-based Paul McVeigh’s ‘Not the Booker Prize’ shortlisted novel The Good Son chosen for City Reads 2016 — and part of Brighton Festival

Brighton’s Big Read for adults returns to its to its cultural home in 2016 as City Reads becomes part of Brighton Festival’s 50th anniversary celebrations.

Delighted to have been chosen as this year’s author, Brighton based author Paul McVeigh says: ‘When I moved to Brighton a few years ago, one of the first things I did was volunteer for City Reads to celebrate books and get to know my new city. Who could believe that just a few years later my book would be chosen and my adopted city would adopt me right back. That it will be part of the 50th Anniversary of the Brighton Festival is such an honour. I can’t wait to get started.’

The 2016 read

2016 marks the centenary of the Easter Rising, a rebellion that led to the eventual signing of the Anglo Irish Treaty and the creation of Northern Ireland. Fittingly, this year City Reads turns its attention to the Ardoyne district of Belfast at the height of the Troubles in Northern Ireland.

You are invited to join in the city-wide read of Paul McVeigh’s astonishing debut The Good Son, shortlisted for The Guardian’s ‘Not The Booker Prize’: a bitter sweet tale, set in 1980s Belfast.

‘Blackly hilarious (with) one of the most endearing and charming characters I’ve come across in a long time.’ ELLE Magazine – Best of 2015

Mickey Donnelly is smart, which isn’t a good thing in his part of town. Despite having a dog called Killer and being in love with the girl next door, everyone calls him ‘gay’. He has to protect his Ma and his sister Wee Maggie from the Troubles and from Da. And sometimes ... you have to be a bad boy to be a good son.

Key dates

•    3rd March 2016 City Reads launches across the City
•    29th May 2016 - Paul McVeigh – in conversation at Brighton Festival 2016

From its launch on World Book Day (3 March) to the final event at Brighton Festival on 29 May, there’s a wide range of events and discussions themed around The Good Son encouraging residents across the City to get reading and start talking. Highlights include: an Irish Whiskey Tasting on St Patrick’s Day (17 March), from top taster Dave Broom – with readings from The Good Son and live music, a special screening on the official centenary of the 1916 Easter Rising (24 April) of Pat O'Connor’s 1984 film Cal (starring Helen Mirren) and of course the perennial favourite: The City Reads Book Quiz returns on 27 April.

Andrew Comben, Chief Executive Brighton Dome & Brighton Festival says: ‘We are delighted that City Reads is part of Brighton Festival this year – building on our strong relationship with Collected Works through other partnership projects such as Young City Reads and Adopt an Author. It’s especially exciting for us to champion the work of a local writer as part of 50th edition of the Festival – in which we explore the concept of home and the various writers, artists and performers that live in this city on the edge.’

Delivered by award winning literary organisation Collected Works CIC, City Reads is the longest running ‘big read’ in the UK conceived to spread a love of books and ideas to the widest possible audience throughout Brighton & Hove, with a healthy reach into the South East region.

Sarah Hutchings – Artistic Director, City Reads commented: ‘Choosing one book for a whole City to read, share and celebrate is a wonderful thing because it brings people together. Brighton based Northern Irish writer Paul McVeigh’s incredible book was the perfect choice, particularly as 2016 marks the centenary of the Easter Rising, a rebellion that led to the eventual signing of the Anglo Irish Treaty and the creation of Northern Ireland. I defy anyone not to fall in love with its protagonist Mickey Donnelly. He’s clever, naive and hilariously funny. I hope you love it as much as we do at City Reads.’

The author

Born in Belfast, Paul McVeigh began his writing career as a playwright before moving to London where he wrote comedy shows. His short stories have been published in literary journals and anthologies, read on BBC Radio 5 and commissioned by BBC Radio 4. He is also the co-founder of London Short Story Festival.

The publisher

Salt Publishing is a leading independent publishing house established in 1999. Its books have had considerable success with literary prizes, being shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize and the National Book Awards, winning the Jerwood Fiction Uncovered Prize twice and winning the International Frank O’Connor Short Story Award. Additionally, Salt publications have won the Polari First Book Prize twice.

‘We're delighted to see Paul's book selected for this year's City Reads – a book festival that not only serves readers in Brighton, but has a wider impact on the UK, too, taking books to new readers all over the country. Paul's debut is a tragicomic classic in the making: using the voice of a 10-year-old Belfast boy in the midst of the Troubles to explore a brutal landscape with charm, comedy and just the odd touch of darkness. It's a book about wild dreams, your idiot brother and your crazy Ma.’ Christopher Hamilton-Emery – Marketing and Publicity Director, Salt Publishing