Topic of the Week: July 12-16, 2010

Frank Delaney

Politics have been the foundation for many classic novels through the centuries. When  passion is combined with politics at the hand of a master storyteller, you have more than just a compelling story, you have prose that sings from the pages. Inspired by the recent release of Frank Delaney‘s Venetia Kelly’s Traveling Show, we’re discussing novels that lift the curtain on the theater of politics and passion this week in #litchat.

Sure to become a classic, Venetia Kelly’s Traveling Show, transports readers back to Ireland in the 1930s, when Irish independence was a rising star in a world theater where fascism was waiting in the wings. Delaney’s troupe of characters—farmers, actors, politicians and scoundrels—provide vignettes of insight into the political turmoil and corruption that raged throughout Ireland during the era. While the beautiful Venetia Kelly bewitches from the stage, her alter-ego, borne through the ventriloquist dummy Blarney, dares to speak the truth about all that ails Ireland. Deception, fraud and corruption plague more than just Ireland though. It follows in the shadow of Venetia’s domineering grandfather, the self-proclaimed King Kelly and Venetia’s own mother, a diva of stage and American screen. While Venetia Kelly’s Traveling Show is a major production, the encore belongs to the naive farmboy whose odyssey into the world of the theater to retrieve his love-struck father forces his maturity, and shapes a compelling narrator who looks back at this tumultuous time with wondrous digressions into Irish lore, culture and history and best of all, love.

Renowned for his gift of language, Delaney’s  work often scrutinizes the very nature of the spoken word (in broadcasts such as Word of Mouth, Say the Word, Omnibus and others.) As well as being a best-selling author of more than 21 books, Delaney has interviewed more than 3,000 writers for his BBC and international television and radio shows (Bookshelf, The Book Show, The Frank Delaney Show) including the great literary names of our time.

A judge of many literary prizes including the famous Booker Prize, Delaney has also made documentaries for the BBC on characters as diverse as Joyce, Shaw, and Wilde.

In the current phase of his own work, Delaney is writing a series of novels exploring his native Ireland’s history in the twentieth century, one decade at a time. Like all his books, they are multi-layered and aim to be read (say those who teach them) on a number of levels. Venetia Kelly’s Traveling Show is the fourth novel in this series.

Delaney was born in Tipperary, Ireland and currently resides in Litchfield County, Conn.

Follow Frank Delaney on Twitter at @FDbytheWord