I am so at home in Dublin, more than any other city, that I feel it has always been familiar to me. It took me years to see through its soft charm to its bitter prickly kernel - which I quite like too.

Eoghan Smith

It’s That Man Again

Banville’s heroes are by now familiar to us. Remote, middle-aged elitist types, tortured by the burden of existence and the shadow of death, they may not be hugely wealthy but are never poor. Often they are on the margins of a declining gentry that exudes old-world mystique.

Imagining the Others

An accessible crime thriller it may be, but John Banville’s most celebrated novel also marks out his singular intellectual ambition, an ambition that in the early 1970s Seamus Deane recognised as distinguishing him from all other young Irish writers.

Haunted By Ghosts

The Celtic Tiger years have seen a generation of writers emerge that has found in history a way of thinking about the present. It is unsurprising that four of the most recent high-profile Irish novels produced – from Colum McCann, Colm Toibín, William Trevor and now Joseph O’Connor – are set in the past. Trapped in cycles of bad memories, these novels are excavations, or perhaps exorcisms. Divested of the radical potential of the best modernist art, Irish writing has become a mixture of quietist aesthetics and commercially driven diversion.

The Melancholy Gods

Hermes records in his narrative the complicated relations of the Godley family, as they wait for the patriarch, Adam, to die. Once a celebrated mathematician, he is a sombre, philosophising intellectual who has never come to terms with the mundanity of ordinary existence. He has suffered a stroke, and although he still has thoughts his total paralysis means he has no way of communicating with his family. He is a sort of disembodied Cartesian ego – ironically a lifelong solipsist, he is now pure consciousness.