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Space to Think, a new book celebrating ten years of the Dublin Review of Books More Information 

Her True Face

Gerald Dawe
Sylvia Plath presented an image to the world – brilliant student, stellar emerging poet and active, outdoor girl – while within she was deeply troubled and prone to the swings of a disabling depression. A sparkling new biography does full justice to both sides of Plath, and to her blazing art.
Mar 4, 2021, 11:15 AM

The Devil’s Disciple

Maura O’Kiely
As a person, Patricia Highsmith was simply vile: mean, cruel, hard, unloving and unlovable. But was she a good writer? Graham Greene, JG Ballard and Gore Vidal all thought so. She was more esteemed in Europe than the US, where her cynicism about human relationships didn’t go down well.
Mar 4, 2021, 11:11 AM


Afric McGlinchey
In her second collection, Leeanne Quinn gives voice and presence to the Russian poets Anna Akhmatova, Marina Tsvetaeva and Osip Mandelstam. Like Tsvetaeva and Akhmatova, Quinn has experienced grief and loss; like them, she has an attraction for cemeteries.
Mar 4, 2021, 11:08 AM

The Autonomy of the Past

Sarah O’Brien
Each past era, Maria Stepanova reminds us, has its own particular dust that settles in every corner. Those who conflate past with present or appropriate the memories of the dead for their own benefit move us further from the plains of memory and closer to the precipice of myth.
Mar 4, 2021, 11:02 AM

Eyes Wide Open

Daniel Fraser
Many great novels, from ‘Lolita’ to ‘The Kindly Ones’, force our recognition through horror and disturbing conceptions of beauty we might seek to deny, but the proper defence of having written such works, the refutation of shallow moralistic attacks on them, is not the pained retort but the work itself.
Mar 4, 2021, 10:59 AM

Writing as a Weapon

Tim Murphy
In his posthumously published final collection, ‘Shadow of the Owl’, Matthew Sweeney employs the weapon of writing to cope with terminal illness. The book marks the moving and triumphant culmination of Sweeney’s unique brand of ‘imagistic narrative’ poetry.
Mar 4, 2021, 10:55 AM


Susan McKeever
Readers of Ferdia Mac Anna’s comic noir novel, newly reissued after twenty years, must suspend their disbelief, as the characters that rollick through the pages are quirky, fantastical, and at times, a bit superhuman, communicating mainly in quips.
Mar 4, 2021, 10:52 AM

Blood of Spain

John Mulqueen
In the first half of 1936 there were seventy political killings a month in Spain. This was really nothing new, rather the latest outbreak in a long war between ‘the ordered, timeless hierarchies’ of church, army and landowner and the urban proletariat and its peasant allies.
Mar 3, 2021, 19:42 PM


Tadhg Hoey
The internet was born around the same time as Roisin Kiberd herself. In ‘The Disconnect’, she traces its progress, from being ‑ just possibly ‑ an instrument for social good to its eventual emergence as just another way to make huge profits by exploiting our collective vulnerabilities.
Mar 3, 2021, 19:30 PM

Hergé’s Adventures in Politics

Martin Tyrrell
Hergé, the creator of Tintin, was one of many Belgians to respond to an appeal from King Leopold to return to the country they had fled after its 1940 surrender and resume normal life. When the Allies landed in Normandy four years later some of them felt it wise to leave again.
Mar 3, 2021, 19:18 PM

After the Deluge

Tom Inglis
People’s inability during the pandemic to behave morally and refrain from actions that threaten the common good has meant that in protecting the public states will have to rely more on law than persuasion. Legal enforcement is coming down the road ‑ as surely as it did with drink-driving.
Mar 3, 2021, 15:41 PM

Lowly Things, Homely Folk

Patricia Craig
From the four-poster to the settle bed, the dresser set with delph to the chair made from tree stumps, Irish country houses were filled with a variety of now unfamiliar artifacts, lowly things perhaps, but imbued in Claudia Kinmouth’s scholarly treatment with pungency and romance.
Mar 3, 2021, 15:37 PM

Foxing It Up

Farrel Corcoran
Later this year two new British channels will bring a decidedly right-wing flavour to the TV news sector in a move that will have implications for Ireland too. Both will target the BBC as ‘left-leaning’, employing a game plan that has been marinating for years in American news culture.
Mar 3, 2021, 15:33 PM

The Streets of London

Kathleen Shields
To be ‘a citizen of nowhere’, as nativist politicians sometimes like to smear city dwellers, is a nonsense. The very idea of citizenship grew out of cities and city states. The Londoners of Linda Grant’s ‘A Stranger City’ belong in a place and time, but they also know what it’s like to be told they don’t belong.
Mar 3, 2021, 15:29 PM

A Tale of Two Viruses

Hongling Zhang
The writer Fang Fang’s honest, poignant reports from Wuhan won her immense popularity and were read by millions of desperate people on social media. But when her diary was published in Britain, she became a state traitor who had empowered the West by handing it ‘a knife’.
Mar 3, 2021, 15:20 PM

Travelling Man

Ross Moore
August Kleinzahler has worked chiefly in blue collar jobs, shunning the mainstream poetry scene and often adopting a pugilistic stance. He has, however, taught in creative writing courses, even if he sees them as being as destructive of true growth as Dutch elm disease.
Mar 3, 2021, 15:16 PM

People Like Us

John Fanning
Society’s losers suffer not just from economic but cultural deprivation and loss of self-esteem. The winners have the opposite condition, hubris and a tendency to preen themselves on their success while refusing to accept that much of it has come from luck or loading of the dice.
Mar 3, 2021, 15:07 PM

Go with the Flow

Alice Stevens
In 2016, the Colombian constitutional court accorded rights to the Atrato river. The historic decision affirmed that nature itself had legal standing. A river is not just a source of water or a channel for transportation but a living entity inextricably linked to the destiny of all those touched by it.
Mar 3, 2021, 14:59 PM

Warrior Artist

Frank Freeman
Vincent Van Gogh travelled a rough road, often of his own making. His chief artistic master, Jean-François Millet, said that art was a battle, and one that you had to put your whole life into. Van Gogh took this, as he took everything, to heart.
Mar 3, 2021, 14:51 PM