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Reading Groups

John Banville and His Many Worlds of Narrative with William Mottolese

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Five Sessions Thursdays, 6:30 pm EST - 8:00 pm EST January 4 to April 25, 2024

Online via Zoom

This group has reached its capacity. To join the waitlist, please email Sebastian Mazza at [email protected].

The ‘With Books’ option includes all titles required for this group at a 10% discount from our Bookstore.


Meeting Dates:
1/4, 2/1, 2/29, 3/28, 4/25
Online via Zoom

It is hard to characterize John Banville as a typical Irish writer. Over his last half century of writing, he has avoided dwelling on the classic tropes of Irish fiction in favor of topics such as the power of art, the lives of scientists, the Cold War, and the dark corners of human psychology. A prolific writer, Banville has published over twenty novels and another eight works of detective fiction under the name of Benjamin Black. Despite his singularity, his works often circle back to Ireland and Irish themes, and his richness of language, complex plots, and dark humor owe much to his modern/postmodern forebears, James Joyce, Samuel Beckett, and Flann O’Brien. But Banville is no mere stylist. His fiction raises philosophical questions about perception, language, isolation, and fantasy. Often described as Nabokovian, Banville has invented narrators as reliably unreliable as his books are puzzling. John Banville has won many awards, including the Booker, and he continues to craft extraordinary novels well into his sixth decade as a writer. This course will introduce readers to John Banville from one of his earliest canonical novels, Birchwood, to his most recent novel, The Singularities (2022).

Participants should read the entirety of Birchwood ahead of the first meeting.

What to expect from this reading group: Students can expect a discussion-based course driven by student participation and insight.

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    William Mottolese

    William Mottolese

    William Mottolese has taught at Fordham University and Saint Joseph’s College in Indiana and is presently Co-Chair of the English Department at Sacred Heart Greenwich. He has published on such subjects as Olaudah Equiano, Laurence Sterne, and James Joyce and is presently at work on projects on Joyce, teaching critical thinking, and the relation of literary modernism to twentieth-century popular music. He has taught for a decade on the faculty of the Center for Fiction where he has led classes on James Joyce, David Foster Wallace, Salman Rushdie, Irish literature, and postcolonial literature. William is an award-winning teacher, published poet, and proud father of three children.