'Faithful Place' Takes A Grim Dublin Setting Writer Tana French lived all over the world as she was growing up, but her books are grounded in Dublin, the city she now calls home. French tells guest host Lynn Neary how her latest novel, Faithful Place takes readers into a grim corner of Dublin where families do their best to suffocate dreams and cops are to be avoided at all costs.

'Faithful Place' Takes A Grim Dublin Setting

'Faithful Place' Takes A Grim Dublin Setting

  • Download
  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/128434904/128435318" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
  • Transcript

Writer Tana French lived all over the world as she was growing up, but her books are grounded in Dublin, the city she now calls home. French tells guest host Lynn Neary how her latest novel, Faithful Place takes readers into a grim corner of Dublin where families do their best to suffocate dreams and cops are to be avoided at all costs.

LYNN NEARY, Host:

Tana French joins us now to discuss her new book. Welcome to the program, Tana.

TANA FRENCH: Thanks very much. Hi.

NEARY: Well, Frank Mackie tries to get away from this neighborhood, Faithful Place, when he's 19 years old. And I'd love if you could read a description of the night that he thought that he was getting away.

FRENCH: Yeah, sure. That'd be great.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)

FRENCH: In the rock sack was everything important I owned; jeans, T-shirts, a secondhand wireless, a hundred quid and my birth cert. That was all you needed to go over to England back then. Rosie had the ferry tickets.

NEARY: So he gets stood up by his girlfriend and it's 20 years later that he realizes that his girlfriend Rosie was killed on that night. It's a discovery of her body that pulls him back into the old neighborhood, back into the arms of his family. And that's really where the novel proceeds from.

FRENCH: Mm-hmm.

NEARY: But a lot of this story, it seems to me, is really about the idea that you can't escape your past and you can escape your blood.

FRENCH: But the fact is that his new family - his wife and his daughter - he hasn't made a great job of that, that this may be because in fact he tried to erase his whole sense of family.

NEARY: What is it about this idea of people wanting to erase their past or erase their connections with their family that you find so interesting that you've explored it in a couple of books now?

FRENCH: And during the economic boom, there was a sense that Ireland was escaping from a past of hideous poverty. And there was a feeling that the only way we could grab hold of this wonderful rich consumer heaven present that we were being offered was this idea that we cannot in any way pay any respects to our past if we want to hold onto the future, that the two are somehow mutually exclusive, because that's been such a crucial tension within Ireland over the last 15, 20 years. I think that's why it keeps resurfacing in the books.

NEARY: Well, neighborhood plays an incredibly important role in this novel. Tell me a little bit more about this area of Dublin that you're writing about in "Faithful Place." It's called The Liberties.

FRENCH: You can have an argument that's based on what somebody's great-grandfather did in the year 1900. The families that are interwoven by so much intermarriage and so much knowledge leads to a whole different level of intensity of community from what you get in almost any other area, I think.

NEARY: There's a really wonderful description of the neighborhood in the book that I'd like you to read. It begins with: The place was winding down for the night, if you could read there.

FRENCH: Just across the road, my ma and my dad were presumably staring catatonically at the telly, wrapped in their separate unimaginable thoughts, seeing if they could make it to bedtime without having to talk to each other.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)

NEARY: Dublin is almost a character in "Faithful Place." And you, as I said, have lived all over the world. You could've been an international crime writer but you've really chosen to focus on Dublin. Why?

FRENCH: And in a weird way, I think that being almost but not quite from here actually gives me, in some ways, an advantage, because there are things that you would take for granted about a place if you were born and bred there. Whereas if you're part outsider still, then you notice these cultural assumptions, these undercurrents, these things that to a real insider are so much a part of the fabric of life. And I think as a part outsider it's easier to pick up on them and integrate them into what you're writing.

NEARY: Tana, so good talking with you. Thanks very much.

FRENCH: Thank you.

Copyright © 2010 NPR. All rights reserved. Visit our website terms of use and permissions pages at www.npr.org for further information.

NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by Verb8tm, Inc., an NPR contractor, and produced using a proprietary transcription process developed with NPR. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio record.