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In Conversation: Sam Thompson & Kelly McCaughrain

55m Literature 2021

Queen’s Alumni and the Seamus Heaney Centre at Queen’s are delighted to welcome our own Sam Thompson for the latest edition of the Book Club.

Novelist and lecturer at the Seamus Heaney Centre, Sam Thompson joins Kelly McCaughrain, Children’s Writing Fellow for NI to discuss Sam’s debut book for children, Wolfstongue, published by Little Island in May 2021.

“I started writing Wolfstongue for my son, who has speech difficulties and has always loved wolves. I thought of the medieval tales about the trickster Reynard the Fox and his hapless rival Isengrim the Wolf, and I wanted to tell a story in which the tongue-tied wolf gets the better of the smooth-talking fox for once. I hope the book takes readers on an adventure while also offering them a myth that they may find useful: a myth about how language can trap us or make us free, about the self-doubt we feel when we can’t find the words we need, and about how human stories have power to shape the natural world.”

Sam Thompson’s debut novel Communion Town was longlisted for the 2012 Booker Prize and Jott was shortlisted for the 2019 Encore Award. His short fiction has appeared recently in The Tangerine, Still Worlds Turning (No Alibis Press), on BBC Radio 4 and in Best British Short Stories 2019. He has written for the Times Literary Supplement and the London Review of Books. He teaches creative writing at the Seamus Heaney Centre at Queen’s.

”[Wolfstongue] has all the makings of a modern classic with its exhilarating mix of ancient fable and contemporary issues… Not since Watership Down have animal dynamics felt so true and the political undertones so live.” – Alex O’Connell, The Times

“The writing raises this to classic status… Gripping and profound, Wolfstongue may be for children but it is about being human.” – Amanda Craig, New Statesman

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