An interview with Finuala Dowling

Born in Cape Town in 1962, Finuala Dowling was the seventh of eight children of radio broadcasters Eve van der Byl and Paddy Dowling.  She has lectured at Unisa and worked as a freelance educational materials developer, writer and lecturer.  Her short stories have been broadcast on radio and have appeared in several anthologies, winning runner-up prizes in the Cosmopolitan and Commonwealth Broadcasting Association competitions.  She won the Ingrid Jonker Prize for her first volume of poetry, I Flying, and was co-winner of the Sanlam Award for poetry in 2003 for her collection, Doo-Wop Girls of the Universe.  Her novels, What Poets Need and Flyleaf, are published by Penguin South Africa.  Finuala lives in Kalk Bay with her family.

Read the interview here.

Postcript:  This year, Dowling’s third collection was co-published by Kwela Books and Snailpress.  Notes from the Dementia Ward is available online at Amazon and Kalahari.

8 thoughts on “An interview with Finuala Dowling

  1. johemmant

    Well what a wonderful read to wake up to. I must now go out and get one of her books — I’d like the first but I guess it’s out of print, which is so frustrating, but I’ll give it a go.

  2. Michelle Post author

    Good morning and happy friday to you! 🙂 Jo, “Doo-Wop Girls of the Universe” is wonderfully sassy and you should be able to find it easily enough.

  3. christine

    Great interview, Michelle. I loved the parts about her childhood, and also what she said about her way of writing on the beach, almost as if she were trying to capture a dream. Her personality, at least the way she describes herself, reminds me a bit of myself, reserved on the outside, strong feelings on the inside. Excellent questions, you really drew her out.

  4. Michelle Post author

    Thanks, Christine. Finuala’s poetry is refreshing and versatile; I was lucky to interview her.

  5. Rethabile

    Read a great poem by her some time ago, and promptly posted it on Poéfrika. She’s as good as South Africa makes them.

  6. mykopop

    Wow, are you lucky! Last year December we were in Fish Hoek and Kalk Bay one day and I did not know about her yet, in fact we were in Kalk Bay Books, I might have walked past her!

    I don’t usually read English, only Afrikaans, how I happened upon What Poets Need is another story. I read it a while ago and loved it. I was surprised to find a few scraps of Afrikaans poems in there. The book has a unique South African character. I blogged about it at – in Afrikaans of course!

    I also found a copy of Fly Leaf which I’m going to read during the holidays, then I will start collecting her poetry books.

  7. Michelle Post author

    Hi Chris

    Stock up on Finuala’s poetry now. Her collections are a treat.

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