It’s Week 2 of Reading Ireland Month, hosted by Cathy at 746 Books and Raging Fluff. The prompt for this week is ‘My Year in Irish Lit’, and it is a pleasure to go back through the year to last March and see how many books by Irish authors I read – I was pleasantly surprised by the number too and they mostly fall into two distinct groups:
Firstly the Narnia books – for C S Lewis was born in Belfast – something I didn’t realise. I’m joining in with Chris of Calmgrove’s #Narniathon21 which began in December, reading one book per month in the published order. We’ve reported on the first three so far – my post on The Voyage of the Dawn Treader is here.
Secondly, most of the rest of my Irish reading last year consisted of debut novels!
- Holding Her Breath by Eimear Ryan – an engaging and watery debut about the daughter of a dead poet and her lecturer who idolises him.
- Line by Niall Bourke – A dystopian, Ballardian, Conradian queue and an unexpected but perfect ending. Super!
- Mother Mother by Annie Macmanus – An assured first novel from the radio DJ set in Belfast. A young man comes of age, his mother deals with her grief.
- Acts of Desperation by Megan Nolan – long/shortlisted for various prizes, this is a superb story of a doomed relationship which I enjoyed more than Rooney.
Finally there’s Edna O’Brien‘s The Little Red Chairs – which is masterful. Plus some Irish characters by non-Irish writers: AJ West’s novel The Spirit Engineer is set in early 20thC Belfast and is based on a true story in which science meets spiritualism head on, and the Swiftian hero of John Simpson’s political thriller Our Friends in Beijing is a Dubliner.
That’s been my year in Irish reading since last Irish Reading Month, and I enjoyed them all!
NB: Post updated as I made an error, thinking Eley Williams was Irish – oops!