Books have the power to change, even save, lives. The New Big Book of Hope, compiled by Vanessa Fox O’ Loughlin and Hazel Larkin, is a testament to this. Its predecessor, The Big Book of Hope, was originally published by Poolbeg in 2010, in association with The Hope Foundation, with the aim of supporting and promoting the Trojan work of this worthwhile charity. Now available in digital, the original book has been divided into three collections – the complete collection The New Big Book of Hope, plus Here’s Hoping (the complete original fiction selection) and Hope Works, featuring the non-fiction, memoir and poetry from the complete collection. There is literally something for everyone.
The Hope Foundation was established by Maureen Forrest in 1999 as a direct result of her experiences over several years dedicated to voluntary work in underprivileged countries: ‘These children exist in total abject poverty….they had no choice. They had no hope…. Instinctively, I knew that I could give these children the hope they needed- the hope they deserved’.
The foundation works with the street children of Kolkata, India to equip them with the means to escape from and surmount the vicious cycle of crippling destitution gripping their hometown. Providing clean water, food, childcare, healthcare, tackling child labour and trafficking and paving the path to a better future through education, HOPE’s vision is to create “a world where it should never hurt to be a child”.
Esteemed Irish writers and media personalities have contributed some forty short stories and articles toThe New Big Book of Hope, with the combined ambition of raising royalties for The Hope Foundation and, by extension, raising the hopes and smiles of the children of Kolkata. Varying from humorous pieces to sombre non-fiction tales, via political ponderings and some heartwarming stories of romance, there is something to cater for everyone’s palate. All of the stories are unique but alike in their focus on hope. Now available in digital form, this revised edition includes works by poets Kate Dempsey, Michael Farry and Maeve O’Sullivan plus pieces from new authors David Fairclough, Alsion Wells, Fr. David Keating, and Orla Coffey. Bestselling author Orna Ross is also a new voice to the digital collection.
Alison Wells, whose story entitled ‘Flashes of Entropy and Hope’ also features in the new ebook (having won writing.ie’s short story competition for inclusion) says: “It’s wonderful to be part of a book that is for such a good cause. I attended the launch of the original Book of Hope and was moved to hear Maureen Forrest talk about the conditions experienced by the street children of Kolkata. To be included in this volume along with such stellar authors is a great honour. My winning story consists of segments that were originally written as three interweaving flash (or very short) fictions about Emily, Eddie and other related characters. These pieces and others will form a larger collection or novella. In these stories I hope to convey the resilience, humour and hope that reside in people in all sorts of circumstances. In that way, my winning story seems indeed to be a good fit for the book and I hope readers will enjoy it”.
Mary Malone, too, recognises the suitability of the book’s theme to that of the HOPE Foundation: “I’m both proud and humbled that my story, ‘Crazy Little Thing Called Love’, is nestled snugly in the centre of this collection. I chose the fictional route and wrote about the hope in a young couple’s relationship. I can promise that there’s something for everybody between the lovely red covers. But the most important ingredient contained in this book is an opportunity to provide essential support to The HOPE Foundation. This magnificent organisation is working tirelessly to give 250,000 children living on the streets and in the slums of Kolkata a better future. HOPE is currently reaching out to over 18,000 street children in Kolkata, Calcutta. Sales of The New Big Book of Hope will help to house, educate, protect and love these children. ”
Hope is a unique entity in that it’s both an emotion and a motion. It’s a feeling, a sense, but it’s also a tangible force which can be passed on to, shared with and nurtured by others. It’s empowering. Literature is an established source of hope, a fact which the poet Kate Dempsey finds particularly apt given The New Big Book Of Hope’s focus: ‘I was delighted to be asked to curate some poetry for the Big Book of Hope. People often turn to poetry in difficult times, joyful times and it’s great to have the opportunity to include some poems of hope in a book. Serendipitously, when I asked Michael Farry for a poem, he told me his wife, Winifred, has spent some time working with The Hope Foundation in Kolkata. Michael’s poem sequence was written for his grandchildren, describing how he is trying to live up to their expectations. In my own poems, I found one I wrote in a Clondalkin teenager’s voice of a hopeful sky view.’
The New Big Book Of Hope has the ability to change the lives of those who suffer the world’s injustices most acutely. It is hope, after all, that keeps us all going, according to Maureen Forrest. With all royalties being donated directly to The Hope Foundation, each copy sold is literally an instrument of hope and positive change. In the words of contributor Liz Mc Manus, “Beyond the edges of a Calcutta slum, there is a foundation of hope. Not only can we see it but we also see that, in our own small way, we are part of it.”
The New Big Book Of Hope, Here’s Hoping and Hope Works are now available to purchase in digital form online at Amazonand all digital outlets.Eveyone involved in the project would greatly appreciate your support – even clicking the LIKE button on the Amazon page will make a difference to the collections sales and the work The Hope Foundation can do.