I noticed a few weeks into 2017 that I’d unintentionally only been reading books by irish writers – which is a great thing.
Irish writing has always been world-renowned, and in recent years I’ve noticed a sharp rise in acclaimed Irish authors getting the praise they well deserve by both critics and ordinary readers.
Here are some books that caught my attention recently.
All We Shall Know by Donal Ryan
Donal Ryan is one of Ireland’s best writers at the moment, and his latest offering confirms his place among the great writers of all time. It’s a shame that despite his obvious talent he has been forced to give up writing full time and return to his former job to pay the day-to-day bills.
All We Shall Know follows Melody Shee, a disillusioned woman who has an affair with a traveller boy she has been teaching and becomes pregnant with his child.
The book deals with the months following the discovery of her pregnancy and the aftermath of her choices on those in her life.
It’s a great story and a very easy read. Ryan isn’t overly flashy with his prose and his simple writing style will not deter a reader.
Days Without End by Sebastian Barry
I picked up Days Without End after hearing nothing but praise for the award-winning Sebastian Barry’s latest award-winning book. While it is undoubtably a brilliantly written novel, I personally found it hard to stay focused on it at the beginning, often putting the book down again after a few minutes.
It tells the story of Irishmen Thomas McNulty and John Cole, who fight side-by-side in the Indian wars and the Civil War and fall in love along the way.
The language in the book is beautiful and the main characters are quite likeable, but I didn’t fall completely in love with the book as a whole. It picked up in the second half when I became more invested in the characters and their fortunes.
It is definitely worth reading if you are interested in history – particularly American history – but it might be too heavy for the casual reader.
A Girl is a Half-formed Thing by Eimear McBride
Eimear McBride plays with language perfectly in this beautiful debut.
A Girl is a Half-formed Thing focuses on the life on an Irish family, dealing with an unwell brother, a troubled mother, and a troubled girls finding solace and power in sexual encounters.
The fragmented writing perfectly reflects the narrator’s growth from confused child to conflicted young woman.
It’s a great book, and at just 224 pages it is ideal for anyone who can’t commit to a heavy tome.