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

Two Stools and a Passion

Thomas O’Grady
Two men, ensconced on barstools – talking. The pub is a man’s world: ‘Dark wood, old mirrors, smoke-drenched walls and ceilings. And photographs of men. Jockeys, footballers, men drinking, writers ‑ all men ‑ rebels, boxers. The women were guests. The men were at home.’
Nov 5, 2020, 19:50 PM

The Power of Concentration

Gerald Dawe
A new study provides a view of Seamus Heaney as a poet who broke through to the hearts and minds of the general reader, precisely because his poetic instincts were formed by the full resources and range of the English language, both historical and present-day, demotic and biblical.
Nov 5, 2020, 19:38 PM

Not the Death of Love

Enda Coyle-Greene
The ‘After Dennis O’Driscoll’ section of Julie O’Callaghan’s new collection is another example of her genius with brevity. That one word, ‘After’, not only gives all due respect to the importance of her late husband’s work but also sets out the strange new ‘after’ life in which she finds herself.
Nov 5, 2020, 19:34 PM

Parables of Intimacy

Ben Keatinge
Chris Agee has written extensively on the essayist Hubert Butler and is editor, with his son Jacob, of Butler’s Balkan Essays. The Agees, father and son, are uniquely qualified to elucidate the intimacies of hospitality and of hatred that characterise both the Balkans and Northern Ireland.
Nov 5, 2020, 19:24 PM

Legal Fictions

David Blake Knox
In the story ‘Ichthyanthrope’ a defendant in a murder trial urges his counsel to present an explanation for his wife’s death that defies conventional reason, arguing that it matters less if that defence is true than that it should be original and delivered to the jury with complete conviction.
Nov 5, 2020, 19:16 PM

The Art of Honesty

Liam Mac Amhlaigh
Caitríona Ní Chléirchín is adept in using mythology to engage with deep feelings. Her poems can be appreciated without knowledge of their literary pedigree, but for anyone who has more than a passing acquaintance with the Irish literary and song tradition there is added enjoyment.
Nov 5, 2020, 19:13 PM

Remembering How We Stood

Declan Toohey
Peter Cunningham’s new novel recognises the centrality of femininity to the revolutionary period, while a subplot acknowledges that homosexuality existed beyond the pages of Roger Casement’s diary. The epilogue asks us to bring a critical eye to all things historical, fiction or otherwise.
Oct 7, 2020, 10:37 AM

Scourging Buffoonery

Amanda Bell
Rita Ann Higgins’s new collection ranges from polemical pandemic poems to a meditation on the society which locked up its unwanted – ‘poor devils with leaky brains and acres galore’ – and a caustic satire on those Christian Irish who wish to offer asylum only to Christians.
Oct 7, 2020, 10:33 AM

Her Dance with History

Theo Dorgan
One might have expected of Eavan Boland’s posthumously published last collection a certain composure, poems that would speak at last of a history in which she could, finally, begin to feel at home, a history of inclusion, of comfort with contradictions. This is not that book.
Oct 7, 2020, 09:54 AM


Dawn Miranda Sherratt-Bado
In Elizabeth Bowen’s novel ‘The Last September’, the young heroine is on the cusp of independence, as indeed is, on a separate track, the country she lives in. Bowen masterfully portrays a social caste paralysed by its inability to either identify with the new or let go of the old.
Oct 6, 2020, 19:23 PM

Faith and Hope

Barry Houlihan
In Brian Friel’s classic play, the characters’ lives are inextricably intertwined by faith – faith in the healer, faith that they can escape their pasts, faith that they can survive. They are also driven by the blind hope that only true faith provides. But what happens when that faith threatens to break?
Oct 6, 2020, 19:07 PM

Friendly! Dynamic! Various!

Emer Nolan
Saluting progress in Ireland and the contributions of artists to liberalisation is not the same kind of action as analysis or evaluation. Can critics, while retaining the idiom of ‘excellence’, find themselves merely ventriloquising the boosterism of marketing managers and administrators?
Sep 22, 2020, 14:23 PM

The Seamus Heaney Experience

Patricia Craig
On a jaunt to Ayrshire, Seamus Heaney came upon the Robert Burns Visitor Experience. When friends joked that there might soon be a Heaney Experience he suggested ‘a few churns and a confession box’. Roy Foster’s impressive new study provides an alternative route into that experience.
Sep 3, 2020, 15:47 PM

The Past, Revisited

Sarah O’Brien
Niamh Campbell’s ‘This Happy’ finds coordinates for today’s slumlords in Ireland’s colonial past. She also edges her readers to the idea that the attempts of the socially dispossessed to transcend class belittlement through the corridors of education might be based on an illusion.
Sep 3, 2020, 14:02 PM

A Female Text

Clíona Ní Ríordáin
Doireann Ní Ghríofa’s writing in her first prose work is as compelling and accomplished as in her best poetry. The book reveals her as a writer who is willing to take risks, to push back boundaries, refusing to let herself be hemmed in by the demands of genre, gender or tradition.
Sep 1, 2020, 21:26 PM

Whatever You Say

Michael O’Loughlin
The narrator of Alice Lyons’s novel, an American of Irish stock raised in New Jersey, finds on a second visit to the auld sod that she has to learn to speak the language ‑ which is not as easy as she thought, as the true native language, she finds, is not Irish but silence.
Sep 1, 2020, 21:16 PM

The Procrustean Bed

Gerard Smyth
Since her remarkable debut, ‘The Heel of Bernadette’, Colette Bryce  has shown both variation and range in her work, developing a distinctive poetic personality that places her outside of and beyond the ‘Northern thing’.
Sep 1, 2020, 20:54 PM

Great Upheavals, Small Triumphs

Amanda Bell
John McAuliffe’s work is often associated with domestic spaces. In his new collection a number of poems are focused on gardens and interiors, and seem wary about what is going on elsewhere - even a robin in the garden, ‘tussling with something … small for practice’.
Jul 3, 2020, 07:28 AM

Into the West

Susan McKeever
From Killary to Barna, Salthill to Inisbofin, a collection of twenty short stories gathered from Galway city and county evokes the unique spirit, atmosphere and salty tang of the western city and county perched on the windswept edge of the Atlantic.
Jul 3, 2020, 07:11 AM

The Hard Life

Ann Kennedy Smith
When he agreed to allow her to be his biographer Samuel Beckett told Deirdre Bair that his friends would help her and his enemies would also surely seek her out. She was to find that while Beckett was honourable if elusive, it could be hard to tell his friends and enemies apart.
Jun 2, 2020, 19:06 PM