Today is St. Patrick’s Day and unfortunately, not a lot of people will be able to partake in any festivities this year. But that doesn’t mean you can’t celebrate the great things that this rich and vibrant country has to offer in the comfort of your own home. And reading is the best way to do it!
One of the things I love about Ireland, other than this beautiful landscapes and lively music, is their dynamic collection of literature. And in the past year or two that has become true with female writers, who are becoming the front-runners in this revolution. So, in celebration of St. Patrick’s Day AND Women’s History Month, here are some Irish literature, written by female authors, that you should definitely add to your TBR list:
The Accident Season, Spellbook of the Lost and Found and All the Bad Apples by Moïra Fowley Doyle
All three of these books were amazing in their individual way, although All the Bad Apples is my favorite one of the three. Doyle highlighted the issues and realism of Irish society, embraced with magical realism, that would make this narrative relevant to any reader.
Milkman by Anna Burns
In an unnamed city, middle sister stands out for the wrong reasons. She reads while walking, for one. And she has been taking French night classes downtown. So when a local paramilitary named Milkman begins pursuing her, she suddenly becomes “interesting,” the last thing she ever wanted to be. Despite middle sister’s attempts to avoid him–and to keep her mother from finding out about her maybe-boyfriend–rumors spread and the threat of violence lingers. Milkman is a story of the way inaction can have enormous repercussions, in a time when the wrong flag, wrong religion, or even a sunset can be subversive. Told with ferocious energy and sly, wicked humor, Milkman establishes Anna Burns as one of the most consequential voices of our day. (Credit: Graywolf Press)
Normal People by Sally Rooney
This reminded me a little bit of Milkman by Anna Burns but not because of the complexity of reading the text, but because of the deeper meaning that was behind the story. This is not your average “coming of age” love story. Rooney actually was able to take a new spin on a genre that has been done a million times and make it different and something that makes the reader thinks. Marianne and Connell are too young people who fall in love but have a hard time being together due to their personal worlds being so different, both economically and emotionally. But Rooney explores these issues with wit, sharpness, sincerity, and acuteness that is a breath of fresh air. She doesn’t hold anything back, especially with her remarks on the literary world.
Follow Me to Ground by Sue Rainsford
Follow Me to Ground is fascinating and frightening, urgent and propulsive. In Ada, award-winning author Sue Rainsford has created an utterly bewitching heroine, one who challenges conventional ideas of womanhood and the secrets of the body. Slim but authoritative, Follow Me to Ground lingers long after its final page, pulling the reader into a dream between fairytale and nightmare, desire and delusion, folktale and warning. (Credit: Scribner)
Constellations by Sinéad Gleeson
I have come to think of all the metal in my body as artificial stars, glistening beneath the skin, a constellation of old and new metal. A map, a tracing of connections and a guide to looking at things from different angles.
How do you tell the story of life that is no one thing? How do you tell the story of a life in a body, as it goes through sickness, health, motherhood? And how do you tell that story when you are not just a woman but a woman in Ireland? In these powerful and daring essays, Sinead Gleeson does that very thing. In doing so she delves into a range of subjects: art, illness, ghosts, grief, and our very ways of seeing. In writing that is in tradition of some of our finest writers such as Olivia Laing, Maggie O’Farrell, and Maggie Nelson, and yet still in her own spirited, warm voice, Gleeson takes us on a journey that is both personal and yet universal in its resonance. (Credit: Picador Books)
O’Neill tackles issues that most people are afraid to touch with a ten foot pole. That is why her books are loved and enjoyed by many readers across many generations.
A Girl Is a Half-formed Thing by Eimear McBride
Eimear McBride’s debut tells, with astonishing insight and in brutal detail, the story of a young woman’s relationship with her brother, and the long shadow cast by his childhood brain tumour. Not so much a stream of consciousness, as an unconscious railing against a life that makes little sense, and a shocking and intimate insight into the thoughts, feelings and chaotic sexuality of a vulnerable and isolated protagonist. To read A Girl Is A Half-Formed Thing is to plunge inside its narrator’s head, experiencing her world first-hand. This isn’t always comfortable – but it is always a revelation. (Credit: Hogarth)
The Glorious Heresies by Lisa McInerney
One messy murder affects the lives of five misfits who exist on the fringes of Ireland’s post-crash society. Ryan is a fifteen-year-old drug dealer desperate not to turn out like his alcoholic father Tony, whose obsession with his unhinged next-door neighbour threatens to ruin him and his family. Georgie is a prostitute whose willingness to feign a religious conversion has dangerous repercussions, while Maureen, the accidental murderer, has returned to Cork after forty years in exile to discover that Jimmy, the son she was forced to give up years before, has grown into the most fearsome gangster in the city. In seeking atonement for the murder and a multitude of other perceived sins, Maureen threatens to destroy everything her son has worked so hard for, while her actions risk bringing the intertwined lives of the Irish underworld into the spotlight . . . (Credit: Hodder & Stoughton)