Sorry, this site requires JavaScript enabled.
Head of Zeus
The Star Factory
The Star Factory by Ciaran Carson

One of Ireland's most celebrated writers, musicians, and poets, Ciaran Carson was born in Belfast and has spent his life there. In The Star Factory, he makes himself the cartographer of his home city's spaces, symbolic and literal, the scribe of its byways and avenues, from Abbey Road to Zetland Street.

Belfast has seen transformation: once the fifth-greatest industrial city in the world, the home of the S.S. Titanic, it has more recently been a battleground of sectarian slaughter. To conjure up the lives lived there, Carson plunges down the 'wormhole of memory' – admiring along the way the strata and roots beneath the surface. Though it has experienced more than its share of urban decay – the Star Factory of the title is an abandoned mill – Carson's Belfast teems with stories, stories that can spring from a telephone directory, a cigarette case, a postcard, a book about tramways, a stamp. For the eye that knows where to look, and the ear that can listen, gems and melodies are everywhere.

The Star Factory is an elegy of magical power and enduring love, a work of passion and precision, and sure to be considered one of the finest books about Ireland ever written.

Head of Zeus, an Apollo book * Memoir
12 Dec 2019 * 320pp * £7.99 * 9781838933661
'The Star Factory is a splendid read, packed with wonderful reminiscences of old Belfast ... It is highly recommended'
The Sunday Times
'In The Star Factory Carson is still playing Soldiers and Rebels, he is still a boy listening to his father's stories ... The best parts of the book are those in which he gives himself over to nostalgia, evokes the smell of his father's postman's bag, his voice, the cigarettes, his coming home after all those rounds, those deliveries'
London Review of Books
'The playful, enchanting contiguities of Irish poet Carson's memoir (which is as much a portrait of the city of Belfast as it is of one of its denizens) are just as skilled as those in Nabokov's standard, Speak, Memory, and are even somewhat bolder ... Among the flood of Irish memoirs these days, none are as dazzlingly written as this, and none remain so solidly entrenched in the sovereign space of the imagination'
Publishers Weekly
'A whimsical, witty romp through the streets of Belfast ... While the tone of most of the book is lighthearted (as when Carson reveals to us the titles of the books he keeps in his privy), there are also more serious undertones of violence and the IRA – mentioned only occasionally and always in passing when referring to some local landmark. Violence for Carson is just one part of the Belfast landscape – not to be dwelt upon, but not to be ignored. Carson's imaginary 'star factory' – a place where words were melted down and like tallow cast into new molds – is freshly realized here. Beautifully written, with deep humor and a strong evocation of a very personal Belfast'
Kirkus Reviews
'There are lots of writers hidden inside in that particular book, you see, waiting for the right readers to become them'
Belfast Telegraph

Ciaran Carson

Ciaran Carson
Ciaran Carson was born in 1948 in Belfast. He was Professor of Poetry and Director of the Seamus Heaney Centre for Poetry at Queen's University Belfast. He published numerous collections of poetry that have been shortlisted for both the Irish Book Award for Literature and the Whitbread Poetry Award, and won the Irish Times Irish Literature Prize for Poetry. He is the author The Star Factory, a memoir of Belfast, Fishing for Amber, and Shamrock Tea, which was long-listed for the Man Booker prize. Carson's new translation of Dante's Inferno was published to great acclaim. He passed away in Belfast in October 2019.
ALSO BY Ciaran Carson
The Inferno