London’s International Festival of Arts and Ideas

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Past Events

Past EventsSunday, February 26

Ruth Gilligan and Simon Lewis: The Jews of Ireland

Ruth Gilligan
Simon Lewis
Chair: Jonathan Self

This event took place on Sunday 26th February 2017 as part of Jewish Book Week 2017. To watch a video of this event, click here.

Through their respective works of fiction and poetry, Ruth Gilligan and Simon Lewis tell haunting stories of Ireland’s once-thriving Jewish communities.

Ruth Gilligan’s beautiful and heartbreaking novel Nine Folds Make a Paper Swan spans three generations of Dublin Jews, intertwining their narratives and posing fierce questions about identity and belonging.

Simon Lewis’s award-winning collection of exquisite poems, Jewtown, evokes the vanished community of Cork.

In conversation with journalist and resident of County Cork Jonathan Self.

Experience the event as it happened:


Ruth Gilligan

Ruth Gilligan was born and raised in Co. Dublin, Ireland. At the age of 18 Gilligan moved to the UK, just one month after her first novel, Forget, was published and became a surprise number one bestseller. After that, Somewhere in Between and Can You See Me?, written while she was still at Cambridge, were also commercial hits. 

Simon Lewis

Simon Lewis was the winner of the Hennessy Emerging Poetry Prize and runner-up in the Patrick Kavanagh Poetry Award in 2015. His poetry has appeared in many magazines, journals and newspapers and he has been shortlisted in several prestigious competitions.

Jonathan Self

Jonathan Self is an author and journalist. He has written for many publications including The Times, the Mail on Sunday, Vanity Fair and The Jewish Chronicle. His books include Self Abuse: Love, Loss and Fatherhood, The Teenager’s Guide to Money and Emerald: 21 Centuries of Jeweled Opulence and Power. He divides his time between America and Ireland.

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Jonathan Safran Foer discussing his novel Here I Am with Hephzibah Anderson at an out-of-festival event.