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

Suffering and Sanctity

Carol Taaffe
Emma Donoghue’s new novel, set in nineteenth century, post-Famine Ireland and centring on the case of a ‘fasting child’ who refuses all food, is at its most compelling in the attention it devotes to a religious culture that elevates suffering, and yet which provides consolation too.
Nov 9, 2016, 18:33 PM

Sins of the Advocate

Frank Callanan
The Irish-American lawyer John Quinn defended Margaret Anderson and Jane Heap of the ‘Little Review’ from prosecution for publishing extracts from ‘Ulysses’. The prosecution led to the effective banning of the book in 1921. Quinn’s defence strategy left a lot to be desired.
Nov 9, 2016, 18:21 PM


Rachel Andrews
Ed O’Loughlin’s new novel is set in the wild open spaces of the Canadian Arctic and benefits from a wealth of detailed research into the history of exploration in this remote reason. Against this pleasure, however, the outlines of the contemporary characters remain vague.
Nov 9, 2016, 14:59 PM

Time, Gentlemen

George O’Brien
Rounds of drinks, and rounds of various Dublin pubs, are only the most obvious instances of a more general notion of circulation in a novel whose subtitle, “another day in Dublin”, pays a downbeat homage to, as well as establishing a distance from, the book of June 16th, 1904.
Nov 9, 2016, 14:50 PM

Holding Out

Joseph O’Connor
Mary O’Malley’s poems have seen a thing or two, but the light has not gone out. They are honest, tough, tender, beautiful, alive to the redemptive possibilities of Ireland’s languages, tuned into popular speech and ready to walk into the world and find something worth loving.
Oct 6, 2016, 05:27 AM

Cat Menagerie

Clíona Ní Ríordáin
Afric McGlinchey’s second collection revolves around a central conceit – the fisher cat, familiar of the fifteenth century alchemist Dom Perlet. Drowned by ‘vigilantes’ in the Seine, the animal reappeared with its master some time later when they took up their old pursuits anew.
Oct 6, 2016, 05:18 AM

Suffer Little Children

Liza Costello
A collection of poems by Connie Roberts, who grew up in an institution after being removed from a violent home in rural Ireland, portrays her horrific childhood world both inspiringly and artistically, while refusing to ‘tell it slant’ or to ‘gussy it up / in Sunday-best similes’.
Oct 6, 2016, 05:02 AM

The Bears and the Bees

Thomas McCarthy
Paula Meehan is an inspiring presence, the most important thinking poet of her generation. Still, it must be said that there are rogues and ruffians among poets too, persons of such low moral character that a blackthorn stick might as well be found in their hands as a pen.
Oct 4, 2016, 18:45 PM


Terence Brown
Louis MacNeice’s career was a matter of negotiating between conflicting realities, Belfast and Dublin, Ireland North and South, Ireland and England, Europe and America, peace and war ‑ he chose London over Ireland and a then non-combatant US lest he miss history.
Oct 4, 2016, 18:22 PM

A Bird Pipes Up

Billy Mills
There is always some question around the best, or perhaps the least-worst, way of translating poetry. One view is that translating verse into prose leaves out almost everything that makes the original worth reading in the first instance.
Aug 30, 2016, 10:49 AM

Father of the Artist

Barry Sheils
Mike McCormack’s new novel is a successful and moving work, not least because it contains a public reckoning at its centre – a plea for accountability not typical in Irish writing, which remains overly impressed by its grim array of scapegrace dandies, scouring matriarchs and domesticated Oedipuses.
Aug 30, 2016, 10:39 AM

The Long Note

Brendan Lowe
The opening poem in Paddy Bushe’s new collection gives a sense of an art emerging from a relationship with the natural processes occurring constantly in a particular place, processes which transcend time, while the music played is a different phenomenon from the songs ringing in the New Year down in the village.
Aug 30, 2016, 10:29 AM

Far from Home

Carol Taaffe
Mia Gallagher’s new novel is a capacious one. It is difficult to capture all at once, and as such it is a work that would repay returning to. As the playful cabinet of curiositiesdevice that it features might suggest, it is also a novel that might appear very differently on each reading.
Aug 30, 2016, 09:50 AM

This Island Now

George O’Brien
One of the most distinctive aspects of O’Faoláin’s ‘The Bell’ was its reportage, a genre related to British and American traditions of documentary writing, a departure from the ‘belles lettres’ conception and a socially conscious attempt to extend literature’s democratic appeal and demographic reach.
Aug 30, 2016, 09:38 AM

Sad in the Suburbs

Brendan Mac Evilly
Our image of Maeve Brennan is most often of an elegant and sophisticated woman looking very at home in a New York apartment. Her Dublin stories, however, portray frustrated lives in a respectable but constricted world, the middle class suburban world in which she grew up.
Jul 11, 2016, 22:46 PM

Opening Out

Afric McGlinchey
In a collection of almost sublime purity, Vona Groarke moves from a youthful confidence inspired by love, to a state of ‘chassis’, and finally to a point where she looks outward from the confines of the symbolic house which has served her so often as an image.
Jul 11, 2016, 22:40 PM

Landscapes of Displaced Desire

Tom Tracey
A debut collection of short stories is fraught in mood, yet maintains a composed tone alongside meticulous description. At times it feels like a contemporary ‘Dubliners’ written for the People’s Republic of Cork, shot through with its author’s impressive ‘descriptive lust’.
Jul 11, 2016, 22:26 PM

Watching the Moods

Gerard Smyth
Coming just a few years after his ‘Collected Poems’, Macdara Woods’s new collection demonstrates the progression towards a lifelong unitary project; poem adds to poem, book to book. Because of that consistency poems from forty years ago still wear well.
Jul 11, 2016, 17:59 PM

Retooling Utopia

Philip MacCann
One man’s heaven can be another’s hell. Wilde trusted in the state to appropriate the family while HG Wells favoured sterilisation of the infirm, pan-surveillance and micro-management of citizens’ personal data, criss-crossing government departments through pneumatic tubes.
Jun 9, 2016, 17:59 PM

Jagged Lines and Smooth Numbers

Harry Clifton
Robert Lowell once said that all problems in art are ultimately technical problems and and it is the jaggedness of line of Derek Mahon's most famous poem, “A Disused Shed in Co. Wexford”, that sets it apart from many other accomplished pieces.
May 5, 2016, 19:22 PM