American satirist PJ O’Rourke in Belfast for Hay event

PJ O'Rourke  PIC: James Kegley
PJ O'Rourke PIC: James Kegley

The Hay Literary Festival, which originated in the small Welsh Village of Hay-on-Wye and has evolved to become an annual celebration of books, ideas and debate - described aptly by Bill Clinton in 2001 as the ‘Woodstock of the mind’ - comes to Belfast for a one-off event at the Ulster Museum on May 25.

Here the American novelist, journalist and savagely funny satirist PJ O’Rourke will be in conversation at the Ulster Museum, looking back over a career that has taken him from Rolling Stone to conflict zones across the globe (and even here he often finds dark humour amid despair) to the top of the New York Times book charts with titles such as Give War A Chance.

The former editor-in-chief of National Lampoon is a master at mixing the comedic and the caustic, sharp analysis of the political with laugh-out-loud misery at the decisions of those in government and the absurdities of American mainstream culture.

The author of 16 books, who was born in Ohio and has been a vociferous critic of American manners, mores and foreign policy, taking care to always mix his critiques with a generous dollop of aching wit, will also talk about his most recent book, The Baby Boom: How It Got That Way And It Wasn’t My Fault And I’ll Never Do It Again.

The latter has been described by the Chicago Tribune as holding a “cracked magnifying glass to the generation of Americans born between the end of WWII and the early 1960s.

“Sifting through demographic and economic data and combining the results with generous portions of personal memories, O’Rourke finds much to deplore in the boomer character, but even more to cherish and celebrate.”

The Baby Boom has just been published in the UK by Grove Press and asks pertinent questions of the generation that put its faith in, as he describes, the “Kyoto Accord and disco”, a generation which “dropped out of the capitalist system and popped back in again in time to cause a global financial crisis”.

Most pressingly, O’Rourke asks: ‘How did the Baby Boom become what it is and who let them get away with it?’

PJ O’Rourke will be in conversation at the Ulster Museum, Belfast on Sunday May 25, at 5pm, an event organised by the Hay Literary Festival. Tickets are priced £8 and are available from