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Space to Think, a new book celebrating ten years of the Dublin Review of Books More Information 

Ding Dong, the Witch Might Be Dead

Alena Dvorakova
The Testaments is undeniably a testament to Margaret Atwood’s literary mastery. She has produced the modern equivalent of a traditional fairy tale – a young adult fantasy – but one that is beautifully written, cleverly plotted and only rarely suffers from didacticism. One might wonder, however, if it is entirely proper for a young rebel to believe in fairy tales.
Sep 12, 2019, 13:13 PM


A former minister for enterprise famously suggested that while Ireland was physically closer to Berlin it was spiritually, and economically, closer to Boston. As our neighbouring island prepares to push off into the North Atlantic, it is worth asking if this is still a tenable orientation for the state.
Sep 11, 2019, 14:46 PM


The following is an extract from Emer Nolan’s Five Irish Women: The second republic, 1960-2016, published this month by Manchester University Press.
Sep 5, 2019, 20:47 PM

The Thieves’ International

Sean Byrne

Corruption indices which place countries like the UK and Luxembourg near the virtuous top while Uzbekistan and South Sudan are at the bottom are misleading. It is the financial and legal systems of the UK and Luxembourg that help the kleptocrats of Uzbekistan and South Sudan steal from their people.

Sep 5, 2019, 20:00 PM

Wakey, wakey

Colin O’Sullivan
John W Sexton wants you to ‘wake for the first time’. That is the gauntlet-throw-down of his verse – poems which constantly make you invest time and thought, inverting thoughts and thought patterns and opening you to the idea of ‘thinking yourself into being’.
Sep 5, 2019, 19:54 PM

The Valley of Tears

Brendan Lowe
Comfort and security are illusory in Frank McGuinness’s new poetry collection. They are always weighed down by the fears that are kept to hand. In ‘A Dream About My Father’, the dream is of the father’s death. Comfort, community, family all collapse and vanish.
Sep 5, 2019, 19:40 PM

Wartime Voices

Gerald Dawe
After the deluge of books, documentaries, exhibitions, conferences and  commemorations marking the course of the First World War, there is something affirming in returning to the texts of poems written just before, during and somewhat after that cataclysmic event.
Sep 5, 2019, 19:28 PM

Love Your Hair

Amanda Bell
Hair – rather than skin colour –can be seen as the principal signifier of race and has the power to confer classification as black or not. The story of how ‘treatments’ for taming black hair were developed by black entrepreneurs is a depressingly familiar capitalist narrative.
Sep 5, 2019, 19:13 PM

Stasis in Darkness

Daniel Fraser
In Ingeborg Bachmann’s newly reissued novel ‘Malina’, questions of existence, and the relation of the one who writes to what is written, are continually at play. This is not to say that it is not ‘serious’, rather that its effects are often achieved through parody, laughter, allusion and humour.
Sep 5, 2019, 19:07 PM

Waiting for Dilly

Declan O’Driscoll
In Kevin Barry’s new novel two drug-dealers reminisce about their shared past in a stylised, expletive-filled Hiberno-English. The language used to disentangle their characters and circumstances is wildly expressive and full of observations and inflections that are unexpected and perfectly placed.
Sep 5, 2019, 19:03 PM

Identity? Mine’s knottier than yours

Richard Bourke
If one wanted to write a contemporary comic novel about Irish academia the action would surely have to take place at an Irish Studies conference, somewhere off the island, and the big intellectual beasts would tussle over Irish ‘identity’ – a concept they all without exception love. But what does it mean?
Sep 5, 2019, 18:16 PM

Buying Consent

Ivana Bacik
Those who call for the legalisation and normalisation of what they call ‘sex work’ fail to understand the fundamental problem with prostitution. It is not work like any other kind. It is an exploitative institution that harms the women engaged in it and more generally hinders the building of gender equality.
Sep 5, 2019, 17:44 PM

The Glimmer

Martin Tyrrell
Nineteen Eighty-Four ends with the total defeat of its rebellious protagonist Winston Smith. Or so it seems. But if the victory of the Party seemed final in 1984, who could it have been who wrote (in ‘oldspeak’) the book’s appendix, dated 2050, entitled ‘The Principles of Newspeak’?
Sep 5, 2019, 17:39 PM

A Penny for their Thoughts

Maurice Earls
The liberal ‘Dublin Penny Journal’ and the conservative ‘Dublin University Magazine’, both published in the early 1830s, can be seen as Protestant responses to Catholic Emancipation, the responses of a group by no means ready to give up its ambition to control the Irish future.
Sep 5, 2019, 17:23 PM

Catching Up

Patricia Craig
For decades, Northern Ireland politics meant little more than the struggle between Protestants and Catholics, unionists and nationalists. Since the guns have gone silent it has become clear that a new transformation is taking place, and it’s not the one the paramilitaries fought and killed for.
Sep 5, 2019, 16:44 PM

Beneath the Surface

Deirdre Ní Chuanacháin
Sherwood Anderson credited his mother with awakening his curiosity about what lay behind the facade of apparently ordinary lives in small-town America. When his masterpiece, ‘Winesburg, Ohio’, was published he was castigated as an ‘opener of sewers’; in his home town library the book was kept in a locked cupboard.
Sep 5, 2019, 16:33 PM

A Dream of Justice

Ian Doherty
Seamus Mallon was a leading nationalist politician for over thirty years. But perhaps the most singular aspect of his career was his very deliberate and visible solidarity with his Protestant neighbours during the worst of times. Now, as an old man, he hopes he may have helped plant trees in whose shadow others will sit.
Sep 5, 2019, 16:24 PM

A Beautiful Human Being

Patrick Quigley
When Poland was invaded in September 1939, the painter Jósef Czapski joined the cavalry reserve. Captured by the Russians, he escaped the fate of the officers murdered at Katyń and survived the camps, diverting his fellow prisoners with lectures on Proust reconstructed from his own memory.
Sep 5, 2019, 16:18 PM

Becoming One of Us

Martin Maguire
The population of a state can be expressed in terms of nationality and in terms of citizenship. Nationality is a sense of collective identity embracing past and future. It is a social and historical construct. Citizenship, however, is exclusively defined by the state as a matter of policy.
Sep 5, 2019, 16:10 PM

The hegemony of history

Johnny Lyons
Quentin Skinner’s most significant contribution to the history of ideas was his insistence that canonical texts do not stand outside history proposing universal and ‘ageless’ truths. They must rather be understood in the context of their publication. But does that mean they have little to say to us today?
Sep 5, 2019, 16:00 PM