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In a brand new venture from 23 September, John Murray will be leading intensive, six-day writing courses on the beautiful Greek island of Kythnos, in the Cyclades.

A dedicated Hellenophile who has been exploring the Greek islands for decades, John has a house in the fishing village of Merihas, which will be the teaching base for each course, with accommodation arranged in the neighbouring Giannoulis Rooms.

For more information, visit www.writinginkythnos.com

A much belated (apologies) mention of John’s talk to Society of Authors Northern members, who met in Carlisle at the end of July for one of their regular socials. John talked with Clare Sambrook, author of Hide and Seek. Clare Dudman has a nice write-up (and a couple of shaky photos) of the event on her blog, Keeper of the Snails. Thanks to Clare and colleagues for organising the event.

On June 4th-5th in 2011 John Murray will be performing at The Flat Lake Festival, Clones, Co Monaghan, Ireland. The brainchild of novelist Patrick McCabe and Kevin Allen, it has live music and all sorts of performance events including literary ones. 2010 featured Shane Macgowan of The Pogues and novelist Anne Enright. 2011 so far has John Banville, Joe Queenan… and John Murray lined up.

John Murray has been invited to be a guest speaker at the Society of Authors ‘Authors North’ summer meeting on Tuesday 20th July. The event takes place at Tullie House Museum and Art Gallery, Carlisle, 11.30am-4.00pm and John will be the morning speaker, with Penrith-based novelist Clare Sambrook giving a talk in the afternoon. The two Cumbrian authors are free to talk about whatever they like, but it has been suggested that John’s years as founder-editor of the legendary Panurge fiction magazine, which he co-edited with David Almond from 1984-1996, might be of particular interest.

On the 12th of March, in the Cumberland News, Paul Crute wrote a very positive review of John Murray’s 8th March talk about fiction and Cumbrian dialect at Words by the Water. Entitled ‘A Reet Riveting Read’ it says:

‘One bit of genius that Murray possesses is his ability is to make puns from the dialect when he introduces it into his books. The way he reeled off a list of East European countries in Cumbrian dialect kept the audience amused and the subtle differences introduced included the poor country Albania changing to Albany (a wealthy American city) when pronounced in Cumbrian’.

As a relevant footnote, John has to confess he has only ever been interviewed on two television channels: the late Border TV based in Carlisle, UK, and… Albanian television. He was present at the Legion d’Honneur ceremony held in Paris in December 1997 for Albanian author Ismail Kadare, and was interviewed by Albanian TV as the lone representative of a country neither French nor Albanian. His immortal words were ‘it’s a great day for France and a great day for Albania!’

The Legend of Liz and Joe has been reviewed by Simon Baker in the current issue of the Literary Review. Baker writes: ‘Murray’s work shows that sometimes the biggest truths in fiction come from the shapeliest lies of all: few works of tough realism this year will have defined what being human means more adroitly than this cock-and-bull tale’. There isn’t an online version of the review, but you can get a copy in all good bookshops, or subscribe here.

John has just reviewed cult Ukrainian novelist Andrey Kurkov in the November issue of Literary Review. Best known for his surreal satirical penguin novels Death and the Penguin and Penguin Lost, Kurkov, says John, has wrongly been pigeonholed as a new Bulgakov, or even a new Gogol or Dostoievsky. Instead he is an extremely original satirical writer whose great strength is his innocent, seemingly artless tone which he uses to great effect when sending up corruption and wrongdoing in post-Soviet Ukraine. The Good Angel of Death (Harvill Secker £12.99) is, John adds, ‘hugely enjoyable’.

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