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Somebody: Nuala O’Faolain and a Book that Changed Us

Somebody: Nuala O’Faolain and a Book that Changed Us

Nuala O’Faolain was born in Dublin in 1940, and died in 2008. Her career in Ireland and the UK spanned journalism, television production and presenting, but she is most widely remembered for her first memoir, Are You Somebody? The book was explosive and unexpected, exposing hidden aspects of female life in Ireland and offering valuable insights into the private experiences of a well-known public figure. 

Published by New Island in 1996, and originally intended as a selection of Nuala’s newspaper columns with a personal introduction, it is easy to underestimate the impact Are You Somebody? had – and continues to have. Nuala’s frank and revealing accounts of her life as an educated, independent career woman were shocking – and liberating – in the conservative, Catholic Ireland of the 1990s. The book went on to enjoy huge success as a bestseller internationally, and continues to have an inspirational effect long after Nuala’s passing.

This new installation, curated by author June Caldwell, stands as both memorial and testimony to the importance of Nuala’s honesty and work. Moreover, it speaks to the ongoing need for writers to speak truth to silence, and to reveal ways of living that remain hidden or censored from public view.

Curator June Caldwell has an MA in Creative Writing from Queen’s University Belfast. Room Little Darker, her acclaimed collection of short stories, was published by New Island Books in 2017 and Head of Zeus in 2018. She introduced a new edition of Are You Somebody? in 2018 for the tenth anniversary of Nuala’s death. June’s debut novel Little Town Moone is forthcoming with John Murray. 

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