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

Royal Rebel

Lillis Ó Laoire
Seosamh Mac Grianna’s best-known work, newly translated as ‘This Road of Mine’, is more novel than autobiography and is also an exploration of the relationship between art and artist. Unusually, for a work written in the 1930s in Irish, it is set in Dublin, London, Liverpool and Cardiff.
Jan 7, 2021, 13:38 PM

The Mirrors That We Drape

Deirdre Hines
If the purpose of satire is to change the world, or at least to change the ways in which we think about it, do poets like Kevin Higgins do more than elicit complacent smiles from those who already agree with them? The strong responses that his poems evoke suggest otherwise.
Jan 7, 2021, 13:21 PM

The War on Words

David Blake Knox
Spoken Chinese is a tonal language quite unlike English – with four possible tones to each sound and a fifth atonal sound that can turn a sentence into a question. The chief problems that translators of ‘Ulysses’ have faced in mainland China are not, however, issues of language but of politics.
Jan 7, 2021, 13:04 PM

Yeats Now: Echoing into Life

Joseph M Hassett
Yeats Now: Echoing into Life, by Joseph M. Hassett, was published by Lilliput Press in September. Below we reprint its introduction. The Dublin Review of Books will publish a review of the work in the new year.
Dec 6, 2020, 17:13 PM

Hear the Silence

Magdalena Kay
Derek Mahon is not a poet to calm or ease the mind. He keeps us alert, thinking, in flux. It is hard to accept that ‘Washing Up’ will be his last word. Perhaps this is the greatest gift, that this posthumous volume shows a talent so utterly undiminished, so equal to the challenge of contemporary life.
Dec 6, 2020, 17:05 PM

From the Pleasure Ground

Joseph Woods
Richard Murphy’s publishing life began in the 1950s and culminated in his collected poems in 2013His poetry has its feet firmly in the last century, while the late poems and prose projects, including his marvellous memoir The Kick, firmly establishes him in this one.
Dec 6, 2020, 16:56 PM

Against the Vanishing

Enda Wyley
Throughout her new collection, Mary O’Donnell proves herself a smooth stylist, converting ideas, emotions, opinions into genuine poems that have a visible and an invisible subject. It helps that her imagination is a sturdy one.
Dec 6, 2020, 16:52 PM

What Must Be Told

Eiléan Ní Chuilleanáin
The first duty of the artist is to be lucky. To be there like the photographer, at the right time and with the right equipment to capture what is going on. Paula Meehan’s childhood and youth ran parallel to developments in society which she was particularly well-placed to notice and record.
Dec 6, 2020, 16:02 PM

Two Stools and a Passion

Thomas O’Grady
Two men, ensconced on barstools – talking. The pub is a man’s world: ‘Dark wood, old mirrors, smoke-drenched walls and ceilings. And photographs of men. Jockeys, footballers, men drinking, writers ‑ all men ‑ rebels, boxers. The women were guests. The men were at home.’
Nov 5, 2020, 19:50 PM

The Power of Concentration

Gerald Dawe
A new study provides a view of Seamus Heaney as a poet who broke through to the hearts and minds of the general reader, precisely because his poetic instincts were formed by the full resources and range of the English language, both historical and present-day, demotic and biblical.
Nov 5, 2020, 19:38 PM

Not the Death of Love

Enda Coyle-Greene
The ‘After Dennis O’Driscoll’ section of Julie O’Callaghan’s new collection is another example of her genius with brevity. That one word, ‘After’, not only gives all due respect to the importance of her late husband’s work but also sets out the strange new ‘after’ life in which she finds herself.
Nov 5, 2020, 19:34 PM

Parables of Intimacy

Ben Keatinge
Chris Agee has written extensively on the essayist Hubert Butler and is editor, with his son Jacob, of Butler’s Balkan Essays. The Agees, father and son, are uniquely qualified to elucidate the intimacies of hospitality and of hatred that characterise both the Balkans and Northern Ireland.
Nov 5, 2020, 19:24 PM

Legal Fictions

David Blake Knox
In the story ‘Ichthyanthrope’ a defendant in a murder trial urges his counsel to present an explanation for his wife’s death that defies conventional reason, arguing that it matters less if that defence is true than that it should be original and delivered to the jury with complete conviction.
Nov 5, 2020, 19:16 PM

The Art of Honesty

Liam Mac Amhlaigh
Caitríona Ní Chléirchín is adept in using mythology to engage with deep feelings. Her poems can be appreciated without knowledge of their literary pedigree, but for anyone who has more than a passing acquaintance with the Irish literary and song tradition there is added enjoyment.
Nov 5, 2020, 19:13 PM

Remembering How We Stood

Declan Toohey
Peter Cunningham’s new novel recognises the centrality of femininity to the revolutionary period, while a subplot acknowledges that homosexuality existed beyond the pages of Roger Casement’s diary. The epilogue asks us to bring a critical eye to all things historical, fiction or otherwise.
Oct 7, 2020, 10:37 AM

Scourging Buffoonery

Amanda Bell
Rita Ann Higgins’s new collection ranges from polemical pandemic poems to a meditation on the society which locked up its unwanted – ‘poor devils with leaky brains and acres galore’ – and a caustic satire on those Christian Irish who wish to offer asylum only to Christians.
Oct 7, 2020, 10:33 AM

Her Dance with History

Theo Dorgan
One might have expected of Eavan Boland’s posthumously published last collection a certain composure, poems that would speak at last of a history in which she could, finally, begin to feel at home, a history of inclusion, of comfort with contradictions. This is not that book.
Oct 7, 2020, 09:54 AM


Dawn Miranda Sherratt-Bado
In Elizabeth Bowen’s novel ‘The Last September’, the young heroine is on the cusp of independence, as indeed is, on a separate track, the country she lives in. Bowen masterfully portrays a social caste paralysed by its inability to either identify with the new or let go of the old.
Oct 6, 2020, 19:23 PM

Faith and Hope

Barry Houlihan
In Brian Friel’s classic play, the characters’ lives are inextricably intertwined by faith – faith in the healer, faith that they can escape their pasts, faith that they can survive. They are also driven by the blind hope that only true faith provides. But what happens when that faith threatens to break?
Oct 6, 2020, 19:07 PM

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