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.

Rachel Andrews

Whiteout

Ed O’Loughlin’s new novel is set in the wild open spaces of the Canadian Arctic and benefits from a wealth of detailed research into the history of exploration in this remote reason. Against this pleasure, however, the outlines of the contemporary characters remain vague.

Minding The Language

Nor is good prose necessarily something that is found only in fiction: in an essay commemorating Irish Times journalist Dick Walsh, McGahern notes that “the style he forged is highly individual. Mixing the language of the street and field and public house with clear English, it is immediately engaging.” Recalling Orwell, Walsh saw how “slovenliness of language makes it easier for us to have foolish thoughts”.

Not Altogether Fool

Add to this the fact that James is a polyglot – he reads in eight languages – a rock lyricist – frequently touring with musical collaborator Pete Atkin – and a tango enthusiast – he has converted the upstairs of his London flat into a ballroom so he can feed his passion – and one can see why Julian Barnes, in an introduction to a Best Of volume of James’s essays, observed that he was “a brilliant bunch of guys”.