Category Archives: Storytelling

Edna O’Brien


Last night I went to the London Review Bookshop to see one of the literary greats. Edna O’Brien is surely one of the best writers around, certainly one of my favourites. Her new book, The Little Red Chairs, which those of you who follow these things will know I discussed with Nick Coffer on the last radio broadcast, is an amazing novel. Inspired by the moving pictures of the 11,541 (643 were child size) red chairs set out in the High Street of Sarajevo in 2012 to commemorate the deaths of the people in the siege of Sarajevo 20 years previously, the book tells the story of a war criminal who arrives in a small Irish coastal town. His effect on the people is both powerful and tragic. The book follows the fortunes of one of those villagers as she moves to London and also visits the War Crimes tribunal in the Hague.

Little red chairs

It is very typical of Edna O’Brien that the prose is economical, lean and exactly tells the story, without ambiguity or fuss.

Edna was interviewed by Andrew O’Hagan, himself a Booker shortlisted writer (for his novel Our Fathers), and he did a great job, asking just the questions I wanted to ask. I loved the novel and I feel very privileged to have been at the event.

The Moth


I had the most brilliant time last night with Anna and George, two of my grown up  children when we went to The Moth in the Union Chapel in Islington. What a brilliant evening! A range of stories, some funny, some scary and all really interesting and well told. The last storyteller was Jung Chang, author of Wild Swans. It was a privilege to hear her. I can commend The Moth to anyone who likes a good story. The principle is they are all true and all take 10 – 12 minutes to tell.

The Union Chapel is a marvellous venue, beautiful and good accoustics.

You can get podcasts of The Moth. You can find out more on

I first came across The Moth as a book which I reviewed here some time ago. This was a collection of some of the stories that had been told at gatherings of The Moth and which transferred well to the printed page. I thought it wonderful and I have always been a fan of live storytelling. The Moth started in America and was really just people gathering on a porch telling each other of their experiences. The Moth name comes from the idea of moths being attracted to the light.

I cannot wait for the next one

Three things to get excited about!

  1. Tonight I am going to Jordans Village Hall to hear the brilliant storyteller, Ben Haggarty. He came many years ago to Chorleywood Library and was one of the best storytellers I have ever heard so I can’t wait.
  2. On Sunday BBC Radio 4 are dramatising my all time favourite book, A Fine Balance by Rohinton Mistry. It will be in 3 parts, the first on Sunday at 3pm. I wonder how they will do it and if the voices will be coincide with those of my imagination?
  3. Narrow Road to the Deep North by Richard Flanagan will be out in paperback on March 26th so you can read this wonderful book, winner of the Man Booker Prize 2014.  You can pre order it from Chorleywood Bookshop. Why not email them on If you are not local order it from  You can nominate Chorleywood Bookshop as your favourite on Hive even if you are not local

What a lot to look forward to!