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.

George O’Brien

Voices from the Chorus

Given the historical amnesia that prevails, Katrina Goldstone’s account of the activity of Irish left-wing writers in the Thirties is something of a revelation.

You Lose Again

If country music is three chords and the truth, that truth seems to be couched in a comprehensive, many-shaded rhetoric of subjection, filled with stories of misguided departures, wrong turnings, the weakness of the flesh and, especially, how bad it hurts to feel alone.

The Greatest of These

Colbert Kearney comes from a strong republican tradition: his IRB grandfather wrote the words of the national anthem. The grandson’s memoir, however, is less concerned with ‘the people’ than with persons, in particular his father, whose love for his family is here celebrated, and repaid.

The Fire Next Time?

When Norman Mailer, James Baldwin, and Hunter S Thompson were in their prime a type of writing flourished that called to account the complacencies and evasions of public life. Since the Reagan years, it seems, it’s been bedtime for gonzo. But now Ben Fountain renews our hope.

Strangers in a Strange Land

Emigration into postwar Britain was encouraged, but the only plan was to secure bodies for no-collar jobs (Irish labourers, Punjabi foundry workers) or to maintain essential services (Barbadians for the buses, Irish women for nursing). It was bodies that were needed, not people.

Race & Cash & Rock & Roll

The record label owner can be seen as the freebooter who turned up treasure in the buried American lives crying out in the hollers of the fields or the hymns of the hollows. Did well out of it too, knowing the ways of copyright and related business niceties. Well, it’s a free country, or so they say.

Time, Gentlemen

Rounds of drinks, and rounds of various Dublin pubs, are only the most obvious instances of a more general notion of circulation in a novel whose subtitle, “another day in Dublin”, pays a downbeat homage to, as well as establishing a distance from, the book of June 16th, 1904.

This Island Now

One of the most distinctive aspects of O’Faoláin’s ‘The Bell’ was its reportage, a genre related to British and American traditions of documentary writing, a departure from the ‘belles lettres’ conception and a socially conscious attempt to extend literature’s democratic appeal and demographic reach.

Not All Fool

Mervyn Wall’s satires are in a playful and sometimes whimsical tradition which resists the uplift of the gods and heroes phase of the Irish revival and which includes many of the works of James Stephens and, at a pinch, Flann O’Brien’s At Swim-Two-Birds and The Poor Mouth.

Eating Crow

An arresting debut novel is a notable contribution to the genre of Irish populist gothic and is dark enough to make one wonder if it might not be the last word on broken-family, ruined-child tropes of betrayal and inadequacy.