City Reads chose the debut novel by Paul McVeigh, The Good Son, as this year’s centre-piece.

All across the city, individual readers and book clubs have been reading the book, and the culmination was an event as part of Brighton Festival, in which the readers, the author, and chair Laura Lockington came together to talk about it.

Brighton Dome’s Studio Theatre was packed with book-lovers, most enjoying an early afternoon glass of wine, and the atmosphere was jovial.

The Good Son is a charming story set during the Belfast troubles, from the point of view of the irrepressible Mickey Donnelly, a young boy with big ambitions. As Lockington pointed out, many debut novels are semi-autobiographical, and this is certainly the case here – McVeigh’s childhood in Belfast was discussed at length, and this insight deepens understanding of the novel, as do his translations of Belfast slang.

Paul McVeigh’s a delightfully cheerful speaker and had the audience in frequent fits of laughter, which made for a fun, engaging talk, and ended with many smiling faces exiting into the sunshine of the Festival’s final afternoon.