Niall Williams was born in Dublin in 1958. He studied English and French Literature at University College Dublin and graduated with a MA in Modern American Literature. He moved to New York in 1980 where he married Christine Breen, whom he had met while she was also a student at UCD. His first job in New York was opening boxes of books in Fox and Sutherland’s Bookshop in Mount Kisco. He later worked as a copywriter for Avon Books in New York City before leaving America with Chris in 1985 to attempt to make a life as a writer in Ireland. They moved on April 1st to the cottage in west Clare that Chris’s grandfather had left eighty years before to find his life in America.
His first four books were co-written with Chris and tell of their life together in Co Clare.
In 1991 Niall’s first play THE MURPHY INITIATIVE was staged at The Abbey Theatre in Dublin. His second play, A LITTLE LIKE PARADISE was produced on the Peacock stage of The Abbey Theatre in 1995. His third play, THE WAY YOU LOOK TONIGHT, was produced by Galway’s Druid Theatre Company in 1999.
Niall’s first novel was FOUR LETTERS OF LOVE. Published in 1997, it went on to become an international bestseller and has been published in over twenty countries. His second novel, AS IT IS IN HEAVEN was published in 1999 and short-listed for the Irish Times Literature Prize. Further novels include THE FALL OF LIGHT, ONLY SAY THE WORD, BOY IN THE WORLD and its sequel, BOY AND MAN.
In 2008 Bloomsbury published Niall’s fictional account of the last year in the life of the apostle, JOHN.
His new novel, HISTORY OF THE RAIN, was published by Bloomsbury in the UK/Ireland and in the USA Spring 2014, and was long-listed for the 2014 Booker Prize.
Niall has recently written several screenplays. Two have been optioned by film companies.
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Longlisted for the Man Booker Prize 2014.
We are our stories. We tell them to stay alive or keep alive those who only live now in the telling. In Faha, County Clare, everyone is a long story…
Bedbound in her attic room beneath the falling rain, in the margin between this world and the next, Plain Ruth Swain is in search of her father. To find him, enfolded in the mystery of ancestors, Ruthie must first trace the jutting jaw lines, narrow faces and gleamy skin of the Swains from the restless Reverend Swain, her great-grandfather, to grandfather Abraham, to her father, Virgil – via pole-vaulting, leaping salmon, poetry and the three thousand, nine hundred and fifty eight books piled high beneath the two skylights in her room, beneath the rain.
The stories – of her golden twin brother Aeney, their closeness even as he slips away; of their dogged pursuit of the Swains’ Impossible Standard and forever falling just short; of the wild, rain-sodden history of fourteen acres of the worst farming land in Ireland – pour forth in Ruthie’s still, small, strong, hopeful voice. A celebration of books, love and the healing power of the imagination, this is an exquisite, funny, moving novel in which every sentence sings.