May 4, 2022

Kerri ní Dochartaigh

Harvard Book Store's virtual event series welcomes Irish author KERRI NÍ DOCHARTAIGH for a discussion of her new memoir Thin Places: A Natural History of Healing and Home. She will be joined in conversation by MAGGIE SMITH, author of the national bestsellers Goldenrod and Keep Moving.


Kerri ní Dochartaigh was born in Derry, on the border of the North and South of Ireland, at the very height of the Troubles. She was brought up on a council estate on the wrong side of town—although for her family, and many others, there was no right side. One parent was Catholic, the other was Protestant. In the space of one year, they were forced out of two homes. When she was eleven, a homemade bomb was thrown through her bedroom window. Terror was in the very fabric of the city, and for families like ní Dochartaigh’s, the ones who fell between the cracks of identity, it seemed there was no escape.

In Thin Places, a luminous blend of memoir, history, and nature writing, ní Dochartaigh explores how nature kept her sane and helped her heal, how violence and poverty are never more than a stone’s throw from beauty and hope, and how we are, once again, allowing our borders to become hard and terror to creep back in. Ní Dochartaigh asks us to reclaim our landscape through language and study, and remember that the land we fight over is much more than lines on a map. It will always be ours, but—at the same time—it never really was.

About Author(s)

Kerri ní Dochartaigh is the author of Thin Places. She has written for The Guardian, the Irish Times, the BBC, Winter Papers, and others. She is from the North West of Ireland but now lives in Cornwall with her family.

Maggie Smith is the author of several books, including Good Bones and the national bestsellers Goldenrod and Keep Moving. Her poems and essays have appeared in the New York TimesThe New YorkerThe Guardian, and the Washington Post. Smith is on the MFA faculty of the Naslund-Mann Graduate School of Writing and serves as an Editor at Large for the Kenyon Review.