Picador acquires new book from Irish Book Award winner John Connell
Pan Macmillan imprint Picador has acquired World Rights for The Running Book: A Journey through Memory, Landscape and History, a work of non-fiction from John Connell, bestselling author of The Cow Book, from agent Marianne Gunn O’Connor.
I’ve never run this far before. I’m 30 and this is all new to me. I’m running now as though everything depends on it, and in so many ways it does.
The Running Book is a memoir about John Connell’s passion for (or possibly obsession with) running.
The structure of the book is that of a marathon run around the land in Longford he has described so beautifully in The Cow Book. Part memoir, part essay, The Running Book examines what it is to be alive and what movement can do for a person, a celebration of an activity that enabled him to regain his sense of self at the darkest moments.
Through his descriptions of a number of runs he has taken throughout the world, he looks at colonialism and examines the effects of British imperialism in Ireland and its former colonies of Australia, Canada, the USA and India, and how post-colonial people can free themselves from their histories. But there is also description of the sheer beauty of other great runs he has had: from Australia and Canada, along the majestic Cliffs of Moher and the waterfalls of the Blue Mountains where Charles Darwin cemented his theory of evolution. He also tells the story of famous and inspiring runners through history throughout the book from Sonia O’Sullivan to Haile Gebrselassie.
As everyone in metric Ireland knows, and soon the stragglers in the imperial countries will learn, 42.2 is the kilometre distance of the marathon. Told in 42 chapters,each chapter marks another kilometre in the 42.2k race Connell undertakes through his home. Told in 42,000 words the book captures what it is to undertake a marathon moment by moment.
John Connell said:
‘The Running Book is a very special book to me as it not only explores my love of running but the complex issue of history, post-colonialism and my home. I’m absolutely thrilled to be working with Picador on this book. They are without doubt one of the best publishers in the world and I feel very privileged to be a part of their story and family. My next few runs will be full of a new-found excitement and possibilities I’ll have to pause for breath with such great news!’
Kris Doyle, Editorial Director at Picador said:
‘Although I loved the way John Connell described the physical and mental experience of running a marathon, this brilliant book is about so much more than running. John is a deep thinker and a keen observer; I’m confident the mixture of vivid writing about the places he’s been and the people he has met alongside his probing enquiry into history – personal, local and global – and his natural charm, honesty and wit will delight his existing readers and win him many new ones.’
John Connell’s writing has been published in Granta’sNew Writing issue. His memoir The Cow Book was an Irish number-one bestseller and winner of the Popular Non-Fiction Book Award at the Irish Book Awards. He is a multi-award-winning investigative journalist, playwright and documentary filmmaker and producer, his documentaries have been screened internationally. He lives on his family farm, Birchview, in Ballinalee, County Longford,
Picador will publish The Running Book in October 2020.
About The Cow Book:
Farming has been in John Connell’s family for generations, but he never intended to follow in his father’s footsteps. Until, one winter, he finds himself back on the farm and begins to learn the ways of the farmer and the way of the cows. Connell records the hypnotic rhythm of the farming day – cleaning the outhouses, milking the herd, tending to sickly lambs, helping the cows give birth. But alongside the routine events, there are the unforeseen moments when things go wrong: when a calf fails to thrive, when a sheep goes missing, when illness breaks out, when depression takes hold, when an argument erupts and things are said that cannot be unsaid.
The Cow Book is the story of a calving season. It is also the story of the cow itself, from its domestication and worship as a God by the Ancient Egyptians to the modern practice of mechanized herds, via the figure of the cowboy, the destruction of the American buffalo, the demise of the aboriginal jackaroos and the consequences of BSE. And, above all, it is the story of Connell’s life as a farmer, of his relationship with his birthplace of County Longford, with the community around the family farm, with the animals he tends, and with his father.
Order your copy online here.