Patricks Day is coming up. Can you recommend books for getting into the mood and for appreciating Irish heritage and culture?
* Contemporary Irish authors (I’ve already read all of Roddy Doyle’s published novels but don’t know many other authors) If you like Roddy Doyle, you might like Eureka Street which is set in Belfast in, I think, the late ’90s. Marian Keyes does fluffy chick-lit, some of which is set in Dublin. Sushi for Beginners is fun, if you like that kind of thing. If the setting doesn’t seem all that specifically Irish, it might be partly because Dublin is increasingly cosmopolitan and therefore not that different from other English-speaking big cities. If you like your books simultaneously funny and very, very disturbing, check out The Butcher Boy by Patrick McCabe. The book presents a highly un-shamrocky version of rural Ireland, which is probably a good thing. * The early Irish-American experience – what their lives wer
You know, I’ve been meaning to ask a question very similar to this for a while now. It surprises me how much I have to say on the subject. I recommend Colm Toibin’s The Heathers Blazing and The Blackwater Lightship. He’s a very good writer. Reading in the Dark by Seamus Deane is an excellent read. I’ll second John McGahern–particularly Amongst Women. Lisa Carey is an American author who wrote two very good books situated in the immigrant experience (one is historical fiction and the other tells the story of three generations of Irish women) called The Mermaids Singing and In the Country of the Young. Damian McNicholl is an Irish expat living in Doylestown, PA who wrote a wonderful novel called A Son Called Gabriel.
I don’t know how well she is perceived among others, or among the Irish, but a while back I found Morgan Llewellyn’s 1921 in a bargain bin in Barnes and Noble for $1.00. I had never heard of her, nor did I have any exposure to good historical fiction at the time, but I did have a great interest in Ireland and its culture, history, and people. I figured for a dollar, it wasn’t a huge loss if it turned out to be bad. I could either sell or give it away. I ended up loving it, which was a pleasant surprise. I learned and remembered far more about recent Irish history than I did when I had to read The Course of Irish History, a well-respected but exceedingly dry book. Llewellyn’s novel gave history life, relevance, and personality through story and characters, and it made me