Hannah Kent (below) looks so young. Her skin is flawless, and even in a sweater and spectacles she radiates youthful thoughtfulness. But don’t be fooled: Hannah Kent may be in her early 30’s (i.e. young) but she speaks with the wisdom of an older and wiser soul. Maybe it’s because she’s read so widely – she listed the classics she ploughed through in her late teens and early twenties at the Metamorphosis Gala Event on Friday night – or maybe, like Lady Gaga, she was born that way. Whatever the case, it was a pleasure to listen to her thoughtful responses to astute questioning by ex-Burns Fellow Majella Cullinane.
Hannah Kent has set her second book The Good People in rural Ireland and Cullinane is Irish, so the fit felt right in this session. It was really interesting to listen to Kent tell her writerly evolution story, from PhD manuscript for university to winning her first award and, with it, a mentorship with Geraldine Brooks. Kent also explained where the seed of this second book was located: in a newspaper article that piqued her interest whilst researching her first book in Iceland. She talked about the huge amount of research that went into The Good People, including a trip to Ireland during which she trawled through microfiche newspapers from the time, and discussed Irish folklore with generous hosts.
When Hannah read from her book, she impressed with her Irish accent during sections of dialogue. I admired her greatly in that moment, for she was doing so in the company of an Irish host! But such is the strength of her work; the words flowed off the page with Irish intonation, and anything less would perhaps have sounded wrong.
This is an author at the beginning of promising and already fruitful career. Hannah Kent has already experienced incredible success after writing only two books; I’m really looking forward to what she will do next.
Attended and reviewed by Lara Liesbeth
The Good People
by Hannah Kent
Published by Pan Macmillan