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On The Table Read, “the best book magazine in the UK“, Belfast, With Dinosaurs, 1979 by Martin Connolly is a tale of growing up conflict-torn Northern Ireland, and the survival of a friendship between two boys on the opposite side of the religious divide.
Belfast, With Dinosaurs, 1979
Belfast, with Dinosaurs,1979 by Martin Connolly is an outrageous and wholly unreliable re-telling of the discovery of the first dinosaur bones on the County Antrim coast in Ireland.
The bones came from two different ancient beasts, and when a journalist reported that they had been fighting at the time of their deaths, it didn’t take long for this to be re-interpreted by all and sundry as a metaphor for life in conflict-torn Northern Ireland, with disastrous consequences for many.
Martin Connolly’s alternative, light-hearted, and yet bitingly satirical, look at life in late 70’s Belfast is also a tale of growing up in the midst of conflict, and the survival of a friendship between two boys on the opposite side of the religious divide.
As a professor in Japan, Martin Connolly teaches UK and Irish literature, and has published on James Joyce, Seamus Heaney, Maeve Kelly and others. With a life dedicated to exploring literature, he also teaches creative writing at Keio University in Tokyo, and has published poetry and stories. Belfast, With Dinosaurs, 1979 is highly original and as literary as it is entertaining in the popular sense -or in the Swiftian sense of being able to combine the weighty with the ridiculous.
Breaking from the mainstream, and often in the most radical way, Connolly’s meticulous -and often hilarious- use of language, combined with a deep awareness of what constitutes literary worth makes Belfast, with Dinosaurs, 1979 a modern classic in the making.
Life In Belfast
Connolly forensically researched details of both life in Belfast in the late 70s, and all things dinosaurian, to add depth, breadth and richness to the narrative, creating a story replete with the iconography of both worlds. Howver, it is his delightful observations of the day-to-day life of the people of Northern Ireland that makes this novel shine.
Unlike some depictions of life during the Troubles, Belfast, With Dinosaurs, 1979 is less focused on the tragic and harrowing experience, and more the human, and the often incidentally funny ones. The characters in this novel not only entertain but provide a multiplicity of perspectives by which the reader may view this society, a necessity in any handling of Belfast and its environs.
Witty, perceptive, satirical, and page-turning, Martin Connolly’s novel is a serious work of fiction but one loaded with farce and comedy, and unexpected drama. It will find instant appeal with readers who seek narratives that uncover new perspectives on Ireland’s history. It will also find much to attract the eye of the dinosaur-lover, be he or she casually or professionally interested. This story explores the past and our unending fascination with it.
Synopsis of Belfast, With Dinosaurs, 1979
Belfast, With Dinosaurs, 1979 – A Prehysteric Farce is a novel in the comedic mode about the discovery of dinosaur fossils near Belfast, Northern Ireland, back in the late 1970s. The story follows a neophyte journalist who publishes a story about the find which suggests that the two fossilized bones belonged to two different dinosaurs, and that at the time of their demise, millions of years ago, they had been fighting one another. Somehow, this story of ancient brutal rivalry chimes in with the contemporary Troubles-wracked society of 1979 Belfast. From this point onward, the narrative covers the various reactions to this grand faux pas, be it from the viewpoint of the now-demoted young journalist, the professors working on this research, or the 16-year-old schoolboy who happens to bump into said journalist in Belfast city centre. It also causes a great deal of chat among ordinary Belfastians. Belfast, with Dinosaurs, 1979 is also the story of growing up as a young person in the midst of the Troubles. It is a testament to the importance of friendship over artificial division.
There is satire and comedy in this novel, but there is also observation of the people of Belfast during a particularly harrowing time in recent history. Anyone with any interest in Belfast, or dinosaurs, or in meditations on how we deal with the past, will be interested in Belfast, with Dinosaurs, 1979.
About Martin Connolly
“This novel should be attractive to anyone interested in Ireland, and particularly Northern Ireland. The fact that it shows Belfast in a somewhat light-hearted way may be a relief to many who feel that stories about Belfast are always dark and full of violence. It is a story of the enduring power of friendship and the human spirit in adversity. It is ultimately a story about growing up during the Troubles.”
Born in Liverpool, Martin Connolly was 5 when he and his family moved to Belfast, Northern Ireland. He graduated from Trinity College, Dublin, with degrees in English literature and Spanish, and then in 1990, from Queen’s University, Belfast, with a Masters in Medieval Literature Studies.
In 1991, he moved to Japan, where he has been living since. He is married and has two sons. He is a professor of literature at Tsurumi University, Yokohama. He has published widely on literary topics. He has also published poetry, short stories, a novella and a novel under the imprint of Snowchild Press.
Find more now:
Shanway Press has a dedicated site all about Belfast, with Dinosaurs, 1979:
Published by Shanway Press, Belfast, with Dinosaurs, 1979 is available in paperback (ISBN: 9781910044421 and priced £12.00) at Waterstones at https://tinyurl.com/f3fn85js
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