"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 

Friendly! Dynamic! Various!

Emer Nolan
Saluting progress in Ireland and the contributions of artists to liberalisation is not the same kind of action as analysis or evaluation. Can critics, while retaining the idiom of ‘excellence’, find themselves merely ventriloquising the boosterism of marketing managers and administrators?
Sep 22, 2020, 14:23 PM

Where Late The Sweet Birds Sang

Enda O’Doherty
His indisputable genius ensured that William Shakespeare assumed the status of England’s chief literary emblem, in the same way that Cervantes was chosen to represent Spain, Dante Italy or Molière France. But why was it that he seemed so uninterested in writing about the place?
Sep 3, 2020, 16:07 PM

The Seamus Heaney Experience

Patricia Craig
On a jaunt to Ayrshire, Seamus Heaney came upon the Robert Burns Visitor Experience. When friends joked that there might soon be a Heaney Experience he suggested ‘a few churns and a confession box’. Roy Foster’s impressive new study provides an alternative route into that experience.
Sep 3, 2020, 15:47 PM

My Life and Triumphs

Tom Hennigan
‘I am not so much a writer who has died, as a dead man who has decided to write,’ the narrator tells us at the opening of a Brazilian classic which owes something to Laurence Sterne’s ‘Shandy’, but with the added psychological depth attained in the 19th century French novel.
Sep 3, 2020, 14:33 PM

Our Enemies’ Enemies

John Mulqueen
At the outset of the Cold War, the Vatican and the United States had a project in common, helping senior Nazis escape justice by providing them with new identities and false papers. Their crimes became irrelevant as the West ‘turned on a sixpence’ to confront its new enemy, Russia.
Sep 3, 2020, 14:30 PM

Then Again

Kevin Power
Politics has become a pageant of scandals, with high moral dudgeon the preferred rhetorical mode. In flight from uncertainty, we have abjured the ethical obligation to be uncertain – to pause and say maybe, rather than scream yes or no. Enter Zadie Smith, the essayist of contingency.
Sep 3, 2020, 14:25 PM

The Boys of the Blue Brigade

Michael Lillis
The burning of churches and wholesale murder of priests and nuns during the Spanish Civil War provoked an expedition of Irish volunteers, led by the Blueshirt Eoin O’Duffy. Their intervention was to fizzle out in drunkenness, indiscipline and some not very Catholic behaviour in bars and brothels.
Sep 3, 2020, 14:19 PM

Commodity Citizenship

Tadgh Healy
Citizenship is an arbitrary status that to a large extent determines the material conditions of one’s future. More than class, gender or race, it is the most important factor affecting one’s life chances. Put crudely, some passports come with an array of desirable entitlements; others do not.
Sep 3, 2020, 14:10 PM

The Past, Revisited

Sarah O’Brien
Niamh Campbell’s ‘This Happy’ finds coordinates for today’s slumlords in Ireland’s colonial past. She also edges her readers to the idea that the attempts of the socially dispossessed to transcend class belittlement through the corridors of education might be based on an illusion.
Sep 3, 2020, 14:02 PM

The Queen’s English

Niall Ó Ciosáin
Language shift in Ireland has usually been seen as deriving from integration into the British economy and the resulting pragmatic choices made by peasants. But this is to neglect the role of the state, which conducted its business in English and tended to force its clients to do the same.
Sep 3, 2020, 13:51 PM

Songs from Old Weird America

Jeremy Kearney
After listening to Dylan and the Band’s ‘Basement Tapes’ material, Greil Marcus wrote that this music reflected ‘a community as deep, as electric, as perverse and as conflicted as all America’. In 2017 Conor McPherson triumphantly transplanted these and other Dylan songs to the stage.
Sep 3, 2020, 13:39 PM

Portrait of Fox

Adam Boate
Isaiah Berlin did not share the view that philosophy, and particularly practical philosophy, could be coherently pursued independently of history or, more specifically, of a certain historical self-awareness which springs from a knowledge and appreciation of the past.
Sep 3, 2020, 13:30 PM

A Female Text

Clíona Ní Ríordáin
Doireann Ní Ghríofa’s writing in her first prose work is as compelling and accomplished as in her best poetry. The book reveals her as a writer who is willing to take risks, to push back boundaries, refusing to let herself be hemmed in by the demands of genre, gender or tradition.
Sep 1, 2020, 21:26 PM

Kiss Kiss Scratch Scratch

Maura O’Kiely
A huge and stately galleon, sailing slowly into harbour and slightly holed beneath the waterline, André Talley has a story or two to tell of his years in the highest reaches of the fashion industry. And for his readers’ amusement, he has a great big axe to grind too.
Sep 1, 2020, 21:21 PM

Whatever You Say

Michael O’Loughlin
The narrator of Alice Lyons’s novel, an American of Irish stock raised in New Jersey, finds on a second visit to the auld sod that she has to learn to speak the language ‑ which is not as easy as she thought, as the true native language, she finds, is not Irish but silence.
Sep 1, 2020, 21:16 PM

Under the Still Skies

Rohan Maitzen
The rain never seems to stop at the Scottish cabin park of Summerwater, where the population of holidaymakers reveals itself as representative of the larger nation of which it is a sodden subset, looking for scapegoats to blame for its own constricting discontent.
Sep 1, 2020, 21:10 PM

The Procrustean Bed

Gerard Smyth
Since her remarkable debut, ‘The Heel of Bernadette’, Colette Bryce  has shown both variation and range in her work, developing a distinctive poetic personality that places her outside of and beyond the ‘Northern thing’.
Sep 1, 2020, 20:54 PM

Women with a Movie Camera

Veronica Johnson
A new volume of critical essays aims to analyse and challenge the processes that can foster and normalise the exclusion of women in the Irish film industry, in the hope that the experiences of women in the industry will be recorded and not lost to future film histories.
Sep 1, 2020, 20:46 PM

Into Africa

Eoin Dillon
An account of a young Oxford graduate heading to Addis Ababa in 1961 to teach in a prestigious school geared to servicing the needs of expatriate and privileged Ethiopian mixed-sex youth might bring to mind Evelyn Waugh. But no. This is a serious and realistic novel.
Sep 1, 2020, 20:41 PM