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

Symphony in Blue

Declan O’Driscoll
Yelena Moskovich’s new novel develops depth and passion as it progresses, while never losing a sense of humour. All its early connections develop and entwine. No character is central, because the novel is multi-voiced and unconcerned about the insistence of plot.
Mar 6, 2019, 07:49 AM

An Unconventional Haunting

Megan DeMatteo
The elderly illustrator Daniele is called from his work on a deluxe edition of a Henry James ghost story to go to his childhood home in Naples and temporarily babysit his four-year-old grandson, the only flesh-and-blood creature that can haunt with the same relentless audacity as an actual ghost.
Mar 6, 2019, 07:38 AM

Freezing and Melting

Patricia Craig
More women than you might think have seen fit over the centuries to wander out, in good thick skirts or other climate-appropriate attire in the most far-flung of places. Most of the rest of us have preferred to stay at home, cosy and safe, reading of the savage beasts and strange peoples they encountered.
Mar 4, 2019, 19:33 PM

The Fire Next Time?

George O’Brien
When Norman Mailer, James Baldwin, and Hunter S Thompson were in their prime a type of writing flourished that called to account the complacencies and evasions of public life. Since the Reagan years, it seems, it’s been bedtime for gonzo. But now Ben Fountain renews our hope.
Mar 4, 2019, 19:02 PM

Betrayal as an Act of Faith

Sean Sheehan
Gerard Manley Hopkins’s rejection of Anglicanism to seek truth in the teachings of the Roman church shared many features with another ‘betrayal’ which happened seventy years later, that of the so-called Cambridge spies, who abandoned capitalism for the ‘alien creed’ of communism.
Mar 4, 2019, 18:51 PM

Where Yesterday Haunts Tomorrow

Alena Dvořáková
A lively account based on the fluctuating fortunes of one Russian-Armenian family illuminates the varying impact of large-scale historical developments in specific locations and on people of different ethnicities, religions and cultures. The Soviet Union, it becomes clear, was far from an undifferentiated monolith.
Feb 4, 2019, 14:15 PM

From Now to Then

Siobhán Parkinson
A narrative structure which inverts fiction’s usual propulsion from a ‘then’ towards a point of closure that seems to be an inevitable consequence of events resembles our habits of reminiscence, which start with the vivid ‘now’ and look backwards towards a more sketchily remembered past.
Feb 4, 2019, 13:30 PM

Rotters in Brexitland

Giles Newington
Jonathan Coe’s strengths as a writer – his humour, his clarity, and particularly the deft way he can sketch in the political background – make him well-equipped to sustain a state-of-the-nation novel that is credible and wide-ranging yet avoids being dragged down by the weightiness of its theme.
Feb 4, 2019, 13:25 PM

Philosopher in a Hurry

Johnny Lyons
As a popular explainer of what philosophy is concerned with, Bryan Magee had few equals. Never, perhaps, has so much been owed by so many curious minds to a single intellect. But as his frank memoirs show, Magee was not just a man of intellect but one of will and, above all, appetite.
Feb 4, 2019, 13:05 PM

Funny Ah! Aah!

Michael Hinds
To write comic fiction in a context where everything seems risible, to orchestrate chaos in the necessary fashion, you have to be incredibly smart, in the sense of that term as both verb and adjective. To be smart, your words also have to smart; to give pleasure, you must also bring pain.
Jan 5, 2019, 11:56 AM

Flying the Net

Joseph M Hassett
Wilde, Yeats and Joyce were important to each other, and the importance of their fathers was not lost on the sons either. Yeats later wrote that Wilde ‘knew how to keep our elders in their place’. For all three writers, the appropriate place, if one wanted to breathe, was somewhere else.
Dec 6, 2018, 15:11 PM

The Sorry Earthmen of Bohemia

Alena Dvořáková
Three recently published Czech science fiction novels – all representations of worlds that by definition do not exist –are nevertheless best understood as a more or less realistic reflection of recent Czech history and politics with a collectivist moral, albeit not a straightforward one.
Dec 6, 2018, 14:20 PM

An Irish Impresario

Martin Greene
Augustin Daly was for thirty years the proprietor-manager of one of New York’s most successful theatre companies. Shaw castigated Daly for his failure to embrace the Ibsenite problem play in the 1890s but recognised that the plays he did produce were advanced for their time.
Dec 6, 2018, 13:29 PM

The Genius and the Pedant

Johnny Lyons
Isaiah Berlin had not only a great gift for political philosophy but an unusual talent for verbal expression: his wartime diplomatic despatches from the US were greatly prized by Churchill. A new book by his editor surprisingly reveals that he was very reluctant to have his work published.
Nov 10, 2018, 09:02 AM

Not at Rest

Magdalena Kay
The mind of Derek Mahon is not, he assures us, one that can be ‘set at rest’. But would we wish it to be? Would we want him free of tension and contradiction and impossible desire? One might as well wish for a placid elder Yeats or a young Auden free of guilt and fear.
Nov 10, 2018, 08:54 AM


Graham Good
The essayist Chris Arthur grew up in Northern Ireland, where his father considered himself to be of British nationality. Physical absence from the island may have helped him create an Irish identity beyond the Catholic/Protestant duopoly. It is an identity based not on tribe but on landscape, place and memory.
Nov 10, 2018, 08:46 AM

The Biggest Question

Scott Beauchamp
William Vollmann is fond of tackling large subjects and writing very big books, both fiction and non-fiction. In a two-volume work on climate change he addresses himself to the future inheritors of the earth and tries to explain to them why we did so little to prevent its destruction.
Nov 10, 2018, 08:05 AM

Alternative Facts

Linda Anderson
Tracey Iceton, author of a projected trilogy of ‘Troubles’ novels, claims her work, and in particular her portrayal of a woman IRA volunteer, avoids the stereotypes which disfigured previous examples of the genre. These claims of originality and an ethical approach cannot, however, stand much scrutiny.
Nov 9, 2018, 19:15 PM

Development Arrested

Dan A O’Brien
The Zimbabwean writer Tsitsi Dangarembga’s first novel was a major success, although she was accused by reviewers at home of ‘fouling her own nest’. Her latest novel uses the broken female body as a metaphor to explore the collapse of her country’s body politic.
Nov 9, 2018, 19:01 PM

Something To Declare

Wendy Graham
Gilbert and Sullivan producer Richard D’Oyly Carte offered to sponsor Oscar Wilde’s American tour, hoping to drum up publicity for the comic opera Patience. The representative stock aesthete left London an understudy for the leaders of the aesthetic movement, returning a celebrity in his own right.
Oct 2, 2018, 18:20 PM