Since everyone seems to turn up their Irish heritage for Saint Patrick’s Day, we’d like to take some time to recognize some Irish writers whom we feel very lucky to have read! Irish writers have made no shortage of contributions to great literature. From Bram Stoker, author of DRACULA, to Yeats and Joyce, the Irish have shaped our world and continue to do so through novels, poems, and history. These modern books by Irish writers are a great way to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day and an even better way to spend the weeks thereafter.
When Maud, a cheerful caretaker, and Cathal Flood, her surly new charge, meet, it’s clear that they couldn’t be more different. But the two bond, and Maud becomes too relaxed in the cluttered gothic mansion and begins to uncover old family secrets—including the family’s involvement in a missing child case many years ago. As in her outstanding debut, HIMSELF, Jess Kidd’s beautiful and haunting prose guides her new novel and shows us yet again that she has a talent for finding and telling fascinating stories.
Award-winning author Colm Tóibín’s most recent nonfiction book, MAD, BAD, AND DANGEROUS TO KNOW looks at three famous authors—Wilde, Yeats, and Joyce—and their relationships with Dublin, and their own fathers. Tóibín examines the very different lives and works of the three famed Irish writers,and how they came to be the men and writers we are still reading today, as well as how they shaped his own identity and writing. In this thoughtful, well-researched exploration, Tóibín takes great care in showing how literature connects us all.
Masterful novelist Edna O’Brien continues to tell ambitious, character-driven stories. In this 2016 novel, O’Brien takes us to an Irish town where a stranger named Vlad shows up and sets up shop as a “healer.” Fidelma McBride, a long-suffering woman in a terrible marriage, falls in love with him—but of course, Vlad is not who he says he is, and the town uncovers the truth as Fidelma desperately tries to hold on. O’Brien’s writing is precise and poignant as always, and in this story in particular she carefully crafts each character and fits them into the world of a small Irish town so that they are unforgettable by other characters and readers alike.
Novelist Tom Phelan’s WE WERE RICH AND WE DIDN’T KNOW IT follows his childhood in County Laois, a rural area of Ireland in the 1940s. Before technology, Phelan’s life was both heartbreaking in its difficulties and refreshing in its simplicity. Phelan is a clear talent, and his memoir offers a vivid picture of growing up in Ireland.
“You don’t have to be Irish to cherish this literary gift—just being human and curious and from a family will suffice.” —Malachy McCourt, New York Times bestselling author of A Monk Swimming
In the tradition of Frank McCourt’s Angela’s Ashes and Alice Taylor’s To School Through the Fields, Tom Phelan’s We Were Rich and We Didn’t Know It is a heartfelt and masterfully written memoir of growing up in Ireland in the 1940s.
Tom Phelan, who was born and raised in County Laois in the Irish midlands, spent his formative years working with his wise and demanding father as he sought to wrest a livelihood from a farm that was often wet, muddy, and back-breaking.
It was a time before rural electrification, the telephone, and indoor plumbing; a time when the main modes of travel were bicycle and animal cart; a time when small farmers struggled to survive and turkey eggs were hatched in the kitchen cupboard; a time when the Church exerted enormous control over Ireland.
We Were Rich and We Didn’t Know It recounts Tom’s upbringing in an isolated, rural community from the day he was delivered by the local midwife. With tears and laughter, it speaks to the strength of the human spirit in the face of life’s adversities.
Writer Peter Cunningham’s ACTS OF ALLEGIANCE is not a standard political thriller. Featuring an Irish diplomat named Marty Random, the novel explores the tensions between the English and the Irish, and the northern and southern Irish. Marty has tried to find a balance his whole life, which is further complicated by his new relationship with an English woman. Marty’s allegiances and his character are tested as he dives into the world of espionage, and Cunningham’s characters are as alive as ever, and the plot is sizzling with conflict and intrigue.
The Madigan family comes together one last time before their mother sells their childhood home in this novel by Man Booker Award winner Anne Enright. This disjointed and dysfunctional Irish family is not made up of the most likeable characters, but their stories, spanning thirty years, are compelling and dark, heartwarming and familiar. Enright is a master of character and family epics, and her latest does not disappoint.
The New York Times bestselling author weaves a tale of ambition, drama, and fear in A LADDER TO THE SKY. Maurice Swift works as a waiter but dreams of becoming a great, and more important, famous, writer. Maurice is an unlikeable as they come, and his journey to fame is as deplorable as he is—but it is all fascinating. Boyne’s psychodrama examines the cost of fame and the dark side of life as a writer.
Nugent, the internationally bestselling author of UNRAVELING OLIVER, is a master at weaving together history, drama, and suspense. Her second novel does not disappoint. LYING IN WAIT tells the story of two families linked by murder—from one family comes the victim, and the other, the murder. As the event spins further out of control and history reveals more secrets than the murderer’s son, Laurence, could have ever dreamed of, this psychological thriller goes from slow burn to all-out drama. It’s a must-read for any Nugent fan, and a must-read for all of those who haven’t yet had the pleasure of reading her work.