Arts critic Moira Macdonald offers a list of contemporary writers from the Emerald Isle in time for St. Patrick’s Day.
In honor of St. Patrick’s Day next Friday — why not read an Irish author? You can go for the classics, with James Joyce (start, if you’re new to Joyce, with his exquisite novella “The Dead,” in the “Dubliners” collection), Oscar Wilde (“The Picture of Dorian Gray,” or any of the plays), or Bram Stoker (“Dracula,” but of course). But here’s a few more recent Irish favorites.
Emma Donoghue: The Dublin-born Donoghue is best known for the very contemporary “Room” (both the book and the movie) — but her latest novel, “The Wonder,” is set in remote 1850s Ireland, where a young girl may or may not be a living miracle. It’s a haunting page-turner, filled with Donoghue’s enchanting phrasemaking.
Colum McCann: I’m most partial to McCann’s dizzying, brilliant “Let the Great World Spin,” a 2009 National Book Award winner and gloriously Joycean tangle of voices, set on that 1974 day in Manhattan when Philippe Petit walked a tightrope between the World Trade Center buildings. More recent, and also splendid: his 2013 novel “Transatlantic,” and his 2015 short story collection “Thirteen Ways of Looking.”
William Trevor: Irish literature lost one of its masters when Trevor, known for the brilliance of his short stories (often published in The New Yorker), died last November at 88. His last novel, “Love and Summer” (2009) is a gentle jewel; the story of a love affair in a small Irish town that had sprung up “for no reason that anyone knew or wondered about.”
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Tana French: If you’re a mystery lover who hasn’t met French yet, you’re in for a treat. Her six books — most recently “The Trespasser” — take us inside the heads of various members of the Dublin Murder Squad as they investigate a complex crime, in a heady combination of police procedural and elegantly written literature. (My favorite is, I think, “The Secret Place”)
As my very Irish mother would say, happy St. Pat’s Day to all!