"The drb sustains a level of commentary on Irish and international matters that no other journal in Ireland and few elsewhere can reach. It deserves all the support that can be given it." X
Space to Think, a new book celebrating ten years of the Dublin Review of Books More Information 

Crossing Jordan

Bryan Fanning

Jordan Peterson argues that inequalities experienced under one political system are likely to be recreated in any alternative. Yet surely human ingenuity makes it possible to create institutions and invent social practices which allow us to depart from the determinist script.

More

Nose Stuck in a Book

Siobhán Parkinson

A certain kind of child can be sceptical of the benefits of fresh air, sturdy play or hand-me-down versions of femininity or masculinity, especially when a vast and various world is within reach simply through knowing how 26 letters variously combine and which way up to hold a book.

More

Not At Home

Dan A O’Brien

In Barracoon, Zora Neale Hurston’s documentary narrative from 1931 which has only now been published, the former slave Cudjo gives his children names for the old world they have left behind and the new one in which they now live. But like him, they are at home in neither.

More

Dead Beat Descendants

John Fleming

Mark E Smith’s voice sounded like an anti-London weapon. The danger of his Manchester accent was quite distinct from the dense, literary ambition of his words and phrases; distinct too from the prevailing sneer of take-control-of-the-means-of-production punk and post-punk.

More

Art Wars

Cormac Shine

With a new TV series and accompanying book, Mary Beard has thrown down a vigorous challenge to the late Kenneth Clark and his view of art. In fact both approaches, almost fifty years apart, have a good deal to recommend them and would benefit from being considered together.

More

Greed and Good

Tom Hennigan

That Mario Vargas Llosa should champion liberal principles is scarcely surprising, given the damage wrought by rival doctrines in South America. His new study might have benefited, however, from considering the ways in which liberal politics seems to have come unstuck elsewhere.

More

Them and Us

Martin Tyrrell

A classic experiment in social psychology and group antagonism now looks as if it was manipulated to produce the results required by the preceding theory. That doesn’t, however, mean the theory is wrong: if people grow up in a culture of us against them, that’s the society we will get.

More

The Hardest Problem

Martin Greene

Joyce drew on his theories in creating Leopold and Molly Bloom. Freud thought he was ‘highly gifted but sexually deranged’. Wittgenstein thought he was ‘great’, though one couldn’t agree with him, while Strindberg thought he had solved the hardest problem, the problem of women.

More

The Voice in the Ear

Manus Charleton

Conscience, Hamlet felt, could make cowards of us all. Nietzsche agreed, seeing it as a conspiracy to rein in the strong and free-spirited. And yet it is those moved by conscience, human rights activists, dissidents in totalitarian societies, whom we see as holding up a light for a better world.

More

A Line Made By Reading

Chris Arthur

Can reading rewire the psyche, leave an impression that’s permanent, or is it no more than something of the moment, its impact evaporating as soon as we disengage the reading eye? Is a line made by a lifetime’s reading laid down indelibly or can it be erased?

More

Puttin’ On the Ritz

Patricia Craig

Zadie Smith is an opponent of dullness, mediocrity, pusillanimity and taking yourself too seriously; she is a champion, and in her work an embodiment, of position, attitude, rhythm and style, like her favourite dancers, Fred Astaire and Michael Jackson. Her essays afford not just pleasure but joy.

More

Channelling God

Kevin Power

In 1954 Norman Mailer discovered marijuana. It gave him an insight into the mind of the Almighty, which it turned out was quite a lot like his own. He began to formulate the ideas that would shape his literary work over the next decade. Unfortunately they were not very good ideas.

More

Manderley, Again

Lia Mills

Daphne du Maurier’s classic story ‘Rebecca’ is more an anti-romantic than a romantic novel. It is also a study of jealousy, a portrait of the imbalance of power in a marriage, a psychological thriller, and a crime drama with its conventions turned inside out.

More

Before The Fall

Andy Pollak

In 1945 a new housing authority in Northern Ireland set itself the target of building 30,000 houses over ten years, houses that would be allocated on the basis of need, not religious affiliation. In Belfast, some religiously integrated estates lasted, and thrived, until the start of the Troubles.

More

Politics in the Margins

Anthony Roche

Though he was long perceived as an apolitical writer, Samuel Beckett’s three main publishers, in Paris, London and New York, were known for works with an overt politics and a dedication to civil liberties. This context mattered to Beckett in terms of where his work appeared.

More

Their Own Medicine

Pauline Hall

Matthew Pearl’s 2003 bestseller ‘The Dante Club’ is set at the close of the American Civil War when Boston is shaken by a series of gruesome murders which seem to replicate the ‘contrapasso’ punishments of Dante’s ‘Inferno’. A group of eminent scholars must track down the killer.

More

John Hume’s Legacy

Michael Lillis

John Hume, though acting with the co-operation of other political figures, was the main force in Ireland’s move from war in the 1970s and 1980s to peace from the 1990s onwards. His legacy is a considerable one, but it is under threat today as it has not been for some time.

More

Through to Delight

Magdalena Kay

There is a sense of joy in Derek Mahon’s latest collection, which long-time readers may see as a hard-won peace with a world, and a life, that has all too often shown its undelightful side. The brightness of these visions has been earned.

More

In Search of Richard Murphy

Benjamin Keatinge

Richard Murphy felt out of place in American universities, where his students equated poetry with self-expression. As Gerald Dawe has recently suggested, Murphy was always a poet of other people, whose poems are not about himself at all but about ‘others’ and their reality.

More

Bleak New World

Carlo Gébler

Julian Gough’s new novel portrays a world that we are already well on the way to – one in which human concerns are very much outweighed by issues of the control of ‘tech’. It’s perhaps a problem that a certain kind of reader remains unmoved by tech and stubbornly interested in people.

More

Memory and Echoes

Florence Impens

One of the delights of Leanne O’Sullivan stems from how cleverly she plays with Irish poetry, notably in her use of classical material. There are echoes here of Yeats, Longley and  Mahon, while other poems discreetly evoke Seamus Heaney’s work.

More

The Ascent of Women

Ann Kennedy Smith

‘The average standard of mental power in man must be above that of women,’ Charles Darwin asserted. The opinion was perhaps surprising given the number of talented and active women he knew personally, as well as the wide-ranging social disadvantages they faced as a sex. Women working in the fields of botany, entomology and education often corresponded with the great scientist. 


More

Not So Simple

Declan O’Driscoll

When a narrator declares her boredom and indifference, the danger is that this will be met with a responding yawn from an equally uninvolved reader. What maintains interest in Joanna Walsh’s work is the quality of the writing and the honesty of the insights.

More

Let’s Shop

Caoilfhionn Ní Bheacháin

‘Consumer culture’ may not be as new as we think it is. Consider the ordinary Venetian oar-maker who left his widow forty-three shirts, twenty-five sheets, sixty-three tablecloths and napkins and 105 pewter plates in 1633.  And what does Harrods’ offering of a hundred models of briar pipe tell us about the consumption patterns of London gentlemen in the 1890s?

More

Solace and Silliness

Keith Payne

As a poet, Iggy McGovern celebrates certainties - the certainty of the slow ticking of a public house clock, ‘a quarter-hour ahead’, the certainty of scientific exploration, of a life clearly recalled, the certainty of the BBC Home Service and of course, the certainty of ageing.

More

Not So Very Different

Kevin Hjortshøj O’Rourke

There can at times be an attention-seeking particularism about Irish writing – look at us, we like to say, look how unique, and how very interesting, we are. When I was a boy, we were taught that post-independence Ireland was poor but uniquely virtuous. Today we are taught that it was poor and uniquely wicked. Both positions are misguided: we were never as different as people have made out. 

More

Morsels for a Feast

Edward Clarke

Out of a few ‘crumbs’ - the greening blade of a crocus, a gnarly old olive tree, the chatter of finch, the clouds that drift aimlessly by - Mark Burrows has gathered in his new collection, like a busker in the subway or Christ in a desert place, enough to handsomely sustain us.

More

Noises from Beneath

Angela Nagle

Cyberutopians promised us the Internet would bring the end of hierarchies, industry, nationalism and gender oppression. But its political claims have proven largely empty while it has continued to spawn a particularly vicious male geek culture of obscenity and misogyny. Nagle’s essay, published in 2013, introduced themes which were later to be developed in her very successful book Kill All Normies (2017).

More

Oral Culture and Popular Autonomy

Brian Earls

William Carleton at times conceived of his great narrative enterprise as a form of naive ethnography, asserting that his stories contained more “facts” about Ireland than any previously published work. His sources were multiple, his sea of story extending from refracted folktales, via Victorian melodrama, to the most commonplace clichés of commercial fiction and, indeed, improving tales. At its heart are the narratives and other oral forms of the pre-famine Irish countryside. 

More

Folks Like Us

Carlo Gébler

The central characters in Bernard MacLaverty’s ‘Midwinter Break’ are frail, contrary, inadequate, self-serving, self-destructive, hopeless, hopeful, desperate, kindly, thoughtless, and all the other things that make people people. No wonder their story is so fascinating.

More

A Time In Between

Éadaoín Lynch

Éadaoín Lynch writes on the British literature of the Second World War. Writers such as Roald Dahl wrote directly about the experience of killing in combat, and the godlike power of mechanised warfare. The dominant mode of writing death and killing lay in understatement, detachment and voyeurism.

More

Giant Step

Dick Edelstein

While Geraldine Mitchell’s two preceding volumes of poetry were notably cohesive, in her new collection she constructs a more all-embracing context while maintaining an easily identifiable stylistic continuity. The result represents a considerable leap forward in her work.

More

Getting to Grey

Liam Hennessy

Bipolar disorder has been explained as an attempt to create a world in which everything is either black or white. The illness can only be treated, it is suggested, when the important third element is introduced.

More

Astonished at Everything

Peter Sirr

Generosity and largeness of vision seem to meet happily in the poems of Uruguayan-French writer Jules Supervielle, which seem to cover great distances in short spaces.

More

All or Nothing

Joschka Fischer

Those Germans who argue so vehemently against a so-called transfer union should realise that the EU has always been such a union. France got the CAP for its large rural economy and Germany the common market for its strong industry. Little has changed since.

More

Birds, beasts and flowers

Gerald Dawe

DH Lawrence’s poetry offers a record of the powerful current of physical pleasure, the elusive joy of witnessing that which is different, and the kind of opinionated prickliness when things are not what they seem to be or should be.

More

The Stilled World

Nicola Gordon Bowe

Unsentimental, sparing and unspecific, the painter Patrick Pye has sought figurative images to represent symbolically “the archetypes of our humanity” depicted in an alternative universe where expiation has been achieved.

More

Every third thought will be my grave

Philip Roth once said of fellow writers Saul Bellow and John Updike: ‘[they] hold their flashlights out into the world, [and] reveal the world as it is now. I dig a hole and shine my flashlight into the hole.’ There is no hole that Roth digs better throughout his fiction than a grave.

More

In the Double City

Dublin, says Peter Sirr, has never bothered much with Thomas Street; it seems to exist in a state of permanent neglect, many of its fine old buildings on the brink of collapse. Yet it survives, tough, resolute, working class, with a bohemian sprinkle of cafés near the art college like a daub of icing on a crumbling cake.

More

Philip Roth: 1933-2018

After Bernard Malamud (d 1986), Joseph Heller (1999), Saul Bellow (2005), John Updike (2009) and JD Salinger (2010), the death of Philip Roth removes from the scene the last of those great postwar American novelists who combined huge literary credibility with a large popular readership.

More

Heart and Head

Seventy years ago this week an important congress on the future of Europe was held in The Hague. Some of the fracture lines which then existed still operate today. Britain's role at the event was particularly interesting.

More

Slipping the Mortal Coil

Mark O'Connell has won the Wellcome Prize for his book on 'transhumanism', a movement which seeks to harness technology to enable us to jettison our bodies of flesh, blood and bone and upload our brains to eternal life.

More

What country, friends, is this?

All the world’s a stage, the words you are hearing may well mean more than they seem to do, and what looks like the battlefield of Agincourt in northern France in 1415 could just as well be Ireland in 1599 ‑ or even 1943.

More

Why Marx? Why now?

Marx and Engels were represented on the banners of Soviet-era May Day parades as two imposing greybeards. But Marx, born almost 200 years ago, had a restless and revolutionary mind, schooled by ‘relentless erudition’. A conference in Maynooth next month celebrates his legacy.

More

Pierre Milza, historian: 1932-2018

Pierre Milza was a specialist in the history of fascism, which he saw as a distinct form of political extremism and mass mobilisation, largely confined to a particular time and a particular set of circumstances.

More

The human right to claptrap

If we want children to be told only things that are true, we have a lot of work ahead of us, particularly at this time of year. But can we find sufficient sustenance, as children or as adults, in a diet that confines our imaginations to what is demonstrably verifiable?

More

A Servant of the State

Frank Callanan spoke recently in commemoration of the state’s first minister for justice, Kevin O’Higgins, who was murdered in 1927 by rogue members of the IRA and the dominant theme of whose career was the primacy of civil government.

More

The Toad Work

The discovery of agriculture was the original curse that turned humanity away from its idyllic hunter-gatherer existence. No one is quite sure how it got started. Was it a series of unfortunate accidents or perhaps the work of some obsessive Mark Zuckerberg type?

More

A Half-National Treasure

Jonathan Swift is regarded with some pride as being one of the most notable of Ireland’s long line of great writers. The man himself however would have preferred to have been considered an Englishman – though he did the Irish people some service.

More

Art For All

In a long career as art historian and arts administrator, Kenneth Clark exhibited a constant commitment to the idea that ‘high culture’ should be available to the widest possible audience. His traditionalist approach did not please everyone, but that did not faze him in the slightest.

More

Stroke City

Ireland’s fifth-largest city has many attractions – a broad river, a beautiful natural situation enclosed by hills, a resilient and humorous population, and two names, one for each section of the community.

More

Sparks from the Comet

Dubliners on Culture Night this year heard a talk about one of the most eminent Dublin newspapers of the early nineteenth century, delivered in the very heart of what was then the city's newspaper and publishing district.

More

Will There Be Blood?

Most of us assume that blood will always be available for us should we need it in transfusion. But in Ireland the only source is from volunteers, who donate out of altruism, receiving nothing in return except perhaps a 'warm glow'.

More

The Proust of Ormiston Crescent

In 1912, EM Forster travelled to Belfast to meet Forrest Reid, whose novel ‘The Bracknels’ he had greatly admired. The two men were to become lifelong friends. On Reid’s death in 1947, Forster wrote that he was the most important man in Belfast, ‘though Belfast knew him not’.

More
New Books

Irish Literature

Featuring a full chapter extract from The Abode of Fancy by Sam Coll and a poem from Paula Meehan's new collection, Geomantic.

More

World Literature

Featuring 2016 Man Booker Prize winner Paul Beatty's The Sellout.

More

Irish History & Politics

Featuring Hell at the Gates, in which Brian Cowen, the late Brian Lenihan, Eamon Ryan, Micheál Martin, Mary Harney and many others recount in their own words the inside story behind the government's infamous bailout.

More

World History & Politics

Featuring Final Solution, David Cesarani's sweeping reappraisal challenging the accepted explanations for the anti-Jewish politics of Nazi Germany.

More

Irish Culture, Philosophy & Science

Featuring Paul Howard's I Read the News Today, Oh Boy, the extraordinary story of the young Irishman who was immortalized for ever in the opening lines of the Beatles' 'A Day in the Life'.

More

World Culture, Philosophy & Science

Featuring Loose Canon: The Extraordinary Songs of Clive James and Pete Atkin, an exploration of the lyrics and tunes that have won Clive James and his musical partner, Pete Atkin, a fanatical cult following.

More

Ireland 1912 - 1922

Featuring Wherever the Firing Line Extends, Ronan McGreevey's study of the places where the Irish made their mark in World War I and are remembered in the monuments, cemeteries and landscapes of France and Flanders.

More

More New Books ...