Villanova, Pa. – Mike McCormack’s latest work, Solar Bones—described by The New York Times as “a wonderfully original, distinctly contemporary book”—has an experimental sentence structure. Not a single period interrupts the rhythm of this highly readable Irish novel that has gone on to win both the International Dublin Literary Award and the Goldsmiths Prize, as well as longlisted for the Man Booker Prize.
Villanova University selected McCormack as the 2019 Charles A. Heimbold Jr. Chair of Irish Studies in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences for the spring 2019 semester. The visiting writer-in-residence program offers Irish Studies students the enriching experience of a close classroom experience with one of Ireland’s finest authors. He will present a lecture and reading as part of the Villanova Literary Festival on Thursday, March 21 at 7 p.m. in the Presidents' Lounge, Connelly Center.
Experimentation has been a crucial aspect of McCormack’s career, one he acknowledges he has inherited from Irish writers such as James Joyce, Edna O’Brien and Samuel Beckett. McCormack has also published two collections of short stories, as well as three novels. He won the 1996 Rooney Prize for Irish literature, and his novel Getting it in the Head was a New York Times Notable Book of the Year. McCormack is currently working on a series of science fiction stories set in the west of Ireland.
McCormack’s passion as a writer of experimental fiction is reflected in what he hopes to achieve during his time as Heimbold Chair at Villanova.
“I am really looking forward to the whole adventure of going to Villanova and teaching American students,” he says. “But I think what I am most looking forward to as a teacher is introducing some of the new Irish voices which have made an impact here in Ireland over the past few years. I would love to bring to these students a sense of the excitement and rejuvenation that these new voices have brought to fiction writing in Ireland.”
The Charles A. Heimbold Jr. Chair of Irish Studies, inaugurated in 2000, has become one of the most prestigious Irish Studies positions in the United States. Former Heimbold Chairs include luminaries from the Irish literary arts including Owen McCafferty, Peter Fallon, Nuala Ni Dhomhnaill, Eamon Greenan, Marina Carr, Vona Groarke, Conor O’Callaghan, Michael Coady, Sebastian Barry, Justin Quinn, Claire Keegan, Gerald Dawe, John McAuliffe, Moya Cannon, Hugh Hamilton, Mary O’Malley and Eamonn Wall.
Villanova’s Center for Irish Studies provides collaborative, interdisciplinary courses open to all Villanova University students to study Ireland and its diaspora. Home to of one of the nation’s oldest and largest undergraduate curriculums of its kind, the Center also offers an exchange program with the Abbey Theatre, the National Theatre of Ireland, and internships at the Jackie Clarke Museum and Library in Ballina, Co. Mayo, among other programs in Ireland. The Center for Irish Studies has been made possible by a generous gift from the Connelly Foundation.
About Villanova University’s College of Liberal Arts and Sciences: Since its founding in 1842, Villanova University’s College of Liberal Arts and Sciences has cultivated knowledge, understanding and intellectual courage for a purposeful life in a challenging and changing world. With more than 40 majors across the humanities, social sciences and natural sciences, it is the oldest and largest of Villanova’s colleges, serving more than 4,500 undergraduate and graduate students each year. The College is committed to a teacher-scholar model, offering outstanding undergraduate and graduate research opportunities and a rigorous core curriculum that prepares students to become critical thinkers, strong communicators and ethical leaders with a truly global perspective.