Harvill Secker acquires two new books from STAR OF THE SEA author Joseph O’Connor

© Gerry Sandford

© Gerry Sandford

Harvill Secker has snapped up two new titles by award-winning novelist Joseph O’Connor, including the author’s first thriller. SHAWDOWPLAY and MY FATHER’S HOUSE will be published in 2019 and 2021 respectively. Liz Foley, Harvill Secker Publishing Director, acquired UK and Commonwealth rights from Isobel Dixon at Blake Friedmann.

SHADOWPLAY is a masterful account of Bram Stoker’s life as a young man in London working with Henry Irving, the world’s first superstar actor, as they both fall under the spell of dazzling actress Ellen Terry. A domineering personality of volcanic charisma and mesmerizing talent, Irving hires an unremarkable Dublin clerk to help him with his daring project: to open his own London theatre, and make it the greatest playhouse in the world. Through Bram Stoker’s extraordinary experiences at the Lyceum, his tempestuous relationship with Irving and the bittersweet closeness he finds with Ellen Terry, Stoker will be inspired to pen DRACULA, the most iconic supernatural tale of all time. SHADOWPLAY is a captivating novel about desire, celebrity, the creation of art, ambition and love. Rights for SHADOWPLAY have already been bought by Natur Och Kultur in Sweden and Guanda in Italy.    

MY FATHER’S HOUSE is a powerful literary thriller set during the Second World War. It is based on the true story of Monsignor Hugh O’Flaherty, an Irish priest in the Vatican who risked his life to smuggle thousands of Jews and escaped Allied prisoners out of Italy under the nose of his nemesis, the Nazi Lieutenant Colonel Herbert Kappler. A deadly high-stakes battle of wits ensues in this astonishing, unforgettable story of love, faith and sacrifice, exploring what it means to be truly human in the most extreme circumstances.

Liz Foley said, ‘We are delighted to have two such exciting projects in the works from one of our most accomplished and well-loved authors’

Joseph O’Connor said, ‘In thirty years of being an author, I have never got over the thrill that goes with a book being accepted for publication. I am truly delighted to be working with Secker and Vintage again. To see your work appear on those iconic lists is an absolute honour, as well as a joy. I have high hopes for these two novels about remarkable people who defied convention and changed the troubled world they found themselves in.’

Isobel Dixon said, ‘Two remarkable stories from a truly remarkable author – and for me the thrill of this deal is heightened by the anticipation of the pleasure SHADOWPLAY and MY FATHER’S HOUSE will bring to readers around the world. Harvill Secker have sensational plans, translation rights are already sold in Italy and Sweden, and there is much, much more to come.’

Joseph O’Connor was born in Dublin. His books include eight novels: COWBOYS AND INDIANS (Whitbread Prize shortlist), DESPERADOES, THE SALESMAN, INISHOWEN, STAR OF THE SEA (American Library Association Award, Irish Post Award for Fiction, France’s Prix Millepages, Italy’s Premio Acerbi, Prix Madeleine Zepter for European novel of the year), REDEMPTION FALLS, GHOST LIGHT (Dublin One City One Book Novel 2011) and THE THRILL OF IT ALL. His work has been published in forty languages. He received the 2012 Irish PEN Award for outstanding achievement in literature and in 2014 he was appointed Frank McCourt Professor of Creative Writing at the University of Limerick.

Visit Joseph O’Connor’s website

Praise for Joseph O’Connor:

‘A masterful storyteller.’ — Neel Mukherjee, The Times

'Like Joyce, O'Connor combines his panoramic range with a close eye to the grain and texture of the phrase ... An astonishingly accomplished writer.' — Terry Eagleton, The Guardian
‘Once again. Joseph O'Connor proves that along with Banville, Tóibín, Doyle and the others of that golden Irish generation, he's right up there alongside them.’ — Bob Geldof

‘O’Connor’s prose is satisfyingly sensitive to his protagonists and enchantingly rhythmical, his pacing is perfect, his dialogues masterful at revealing what is really swimming to-and-fro between characters.’ — Sunday Independent

‘O’Connor has a lovely touch for the nuances of important moments – he captures how relationships start, and how they fall apart, beautifully. — Evening Standard

THE THRILL OF IT ALL by Joseph O’Connor nominated for Irish Book Awards' Novel of the Year

Joseph O’Connor’s ‘incredibly moving piece of work,’ THE THRILL OF IT ALL, has been shortlisted for The Eason Novel of the Year 2014, in the Irish Book Awards. The other nominees for the Novel of the Year are ACADEMY STREET by Mary Costello, A HISTORY OF LONELINESS by John Boyne, FROM OUT OF THE CITY by John Kelly, NORA WEBSTER by Colm Tóibin and THE BONE CLOCKS by David Mitchell. The winner is selected by popular vote, here, and will be awarded on 26 November.

O’Connor is also on the longlist for the first ever Laureate for Irish Fiction. Alongside 33 other authors, Joseph O’Connor is being considered for the three year position which carries a €150,000 bursary and will see the Laureate teach at University College, Dublin and New York University. Other nominees include Booker prize winners John Banville and Roddy Doyle, and last year’s Bailey’s Women's Prize winner Eimear McBride.

THE THRILL OF IT ALL narrates the life-cycle of a band, The Ships, from a first friendship between two students at Luton College in the early 1980s, to their rise on the global stage and beyond. In essence, it’s the tale of four people trapped in the dysfunctional family of a band by the whirlpool of their addiction to music. 

Joe’s novels have won prizes including the American Library Association Award, the Irish Poet Award for Fiction, and the Prix Millepages. In 2012 Joe was awarded the Irish PEN Award for outstanding achievement in literature. 

THE THRILL OF IT ALL was recently Radio 4’s Book at Bedtime, and was nominated for the Bollinger Everyman Wodehouse prize. It is out now in paperback from Harvill Secker.



‘Paragraph after paragraph of brilliance.’ – Guardian

‘What makes this novel such a compulsive read is its extraordinary emotional intensity... an incredibly moving piece of work.' - Irish Sunday Independent

‘O'Connor brilliantly evokes the 1980s...and superbly evokes the struggles of a naive and yet determined band to survive on the road… Don't just buy the book: petition the publishers to release the soundtrack.' – Mail On Sunday Five Star Review