Finuala Dowling is launched her second novel, Flyleaf, at the 2007 Wordfest.
Finuala Dowling was born in Cape Town in 1962. She has an MA from UCT and a D.Litt.et Phil from Unisa, where she was a lecturer in the English department from 1989-1995. She now works as a freelance writer, lecturer, editor and materials developer. She lives in Kalk Bay with her daughter, Beatrice, and extended family.
Finuala began writing short stories in her twenties. Many of these currently appear in local and international anthologies. Her first volume of poetry, I Flying, was awarded the Ingrid Jonker Prize for a debut collection. Her second volume, Doo-Wop Girls of the Universe, published by Penguin in 2006, was co-winner of the Sanlam Award for Poetry. Her poems have appeared in several recent school anthologies as well as in Portraits of African Writers by George Hallett (Wits UP, 2006) and Lovely Beyond Any Singing: Landscape in South African Literature (Double Storey, 2006). She is one of the poets in the “Art for Humanity: Women for Children’s Rights” project.
Finuala returned to fiction, but with a poetic theme, in her first novel, What Poets Need, published by Penguin in 2005. Her second novel, Flyleaf, will be launched by Penguin at the Cape Town Book Fair in June 2007.
In February 2006 Finuala featured in the first Spier International Poetry Festival, curated by Antjie Krog. The same year, she performed at the Poetry Africa festival in Durban and the Aldeburgh Poetry Festival in England.
Lying quietly in Marina’s spare room, you can hear the sea, tell the tide. When I first stretched my toes down into Marina’s sheets, they encountered sand. Someone else had slept there before me, come straight to bed after a day on the beach. I curled up like a mollusc, like a purple-lipped dog whelk, and let the bleakness of my life wash over me. What would become of me?
Violet has turned her back on a marriage she thought had been going quite well – until her flamboyant husband Frank suggested, with no hint of irony, a ménage a trois with the eccentric Isabella, a woman he’s confessed to falling, suddenly and to his own complete astonishment, in love with.
The future does not look bright. Blinking in the glare after stepping out of larger than life Frank’s shadow, Violet’s self-esteem is in the gutter and her financial security isn’t far off. She has nowhere to stay and, as a paid-by-the-hour teacher of English, she barely makes a living.
She takes temporary refuge with her childhood friend Marina (who lives in the Bird House and takes life and love as they comes) and Marina’s son Leo (who does much the same) as she tries to imagine a different life for herself. Help comes from some unexpected quarters – the odd assortment of students who alternately frustrate and delight her, and who don’t much care for the finer points and nuances of grammar; an out of work actor named Tebogo, who knows every Shakespearian soliloquy by heart; Ralph, the self-confessed ‘serial seducer of governesses’; and her mild-mannered colleague Liam, who comes to the rescue when a difficult situation presents itself.
Other Works by Finuala Dowling
Doo-Wop girls of the Universe:
Love, family, writing and Cape Town’s moods form the subject matter of Doo-Wop Girls of the Universe, Finuala Dowling’s second collection of poetry.
As in her much-loved debut, I Flying, Finuala’s distinctive tragicomic voice produces poems filled with wit, verve and poignancy. Ranging in tone from the delightful humour of “Straight Men of Cape Town” to the sadness of “Your Death”, this is another collection to be read from cover to cover.
What Poets Need:
Poet John Carson lives in a crumbling seaside house with his sister and niece. Winter is upon him, and he writes feverishly to the woman who has abandoned him as a lover, yet kept him as a correspondent. Theresa: beautiful, generous… and married.
The occasional fleeting, yet passionate encounter between the two lovers fuel John the writer, but leave John the man close to despair. Theresa’s business and the ever watchful eye of her husband don’t allow much opportunity either for stolen moments.
But John’s home life keeps him from misery and despair. The ever-baffling chores of domesticity, his niece’s mysterious eating disorder and the menu that he’s attempting to write in rhyming couplets save him from himself, most of the time. There’s also the mad old woman who lives in their garden cottage and the poetry journal that John has just been appointed to edit.
Between the anguish of love and the quirks of everyday life, will John and Theresa find a way to come together, or is a state of permanent longing in fact what poets need?