"The drb sustains a level of commentary on Irish and international matters that no other journal in Ireland and few elsewhere can reach. It deserves all the support that can be given it." X
Space to Think, a new book celebrating ten years of the Dublin Review of Books More Information 

Protestant and Irish

John Horgan, Robbie Roulston, Niall Meehan

Three historians discuss issues raised by a new anthology outlining the varieties of Protestant experience in independent Ireland. Topics touched upon include religious segregation in education, privileged access to employment, and its disappearance, and national feeling.


A Novel Enterprise

Geoff Ward

Daniel Defoe was a prolific journalist, producing no fewer than 560 journals, tracts and books yet somehow always in debt. His various schemes included attempts to sell marine insurance and to breed civet cats – and the writing of what we might consider the first novel in English.


No Homes To Go To

Aideen Hayden

In a situation where housing has been ‘commodified’ and has become more an investment good than a form of shelter or a human right, unless the state takes on a strong management role the prospect of owning one’s own home will soon for many people be just a distant dream.


Life, Death, Clean Water

Alena Dvořáková

By the 1990s, seven prose works by the Hungarian writer Magda Szabó had appeared in French, ten in Czech and seventeen in German, while there are now more translations in Italian even than in English. How does this neglect impinge on our notions of the universality of literature?


Turn On, Tune In, Help Out

Paul Walsh

The aim of any left-wing project worth its name surely has to be human emancipation. Perhaps the real strength of Corbynism might turn out to be its ability to incubate a new radical political culture rather than discovering a new form of economics.



John Mulqueen

We should be sceptical when great powers tell us a region is riven by age-old, unresolvable conflicts and hatreds. This was the kind of mystification that in 1938 supplied Britain and France with an excuse to abandon their ally Czechoslovakia, a European democracy, to Hitler.


An Unbaptised Saint

Seamus Deane

It seems appropriate that Simone Weil was buried between a cemetery’s Jewish and Catholic sections. Ultimately, belonging in any sense provoked in her an allergic reaction. She was Christian but not wholly Catholic, and perhaps also, as a Platonist, Catholic but not wholly Christian.


On the Waves of the Surreal

Tim Murphy

Some Irish modernists – Flann O’Brien most obviously – have incorporated surreal elements in their fiction. The tradition has recently received a boost through the work of the Moscow-born and Dublin-based writer, editor, translator and publisher, Anatoly Kudryavitsky.


Stranger Danger

Martin Greene

Stoker’s Count Dracula and Joyce’s Lipoti Virag are both dangerous intruders, the former threatening to infect the English with vampirism, the latter subverting the Irish moral order. Both writers were engaging with a contemporary worry about Eastern European immigration.


Among the Dead Men

Gerald Dawe

JG Farrell had a curiosity that spanned various cultures and periods, a wicked sense of fun, a keen, unrelenting eye for the hypocrisy of particularly English manners of discourse and an understanding of the military and class basis of imperial self-belief.


Directions to the Undiscovered Country

Paul O’Mahoney

We may, rather prosaically, describe death as an adverse health outcome. Or we may prefer to think the deceased has gone on the way of truth, ‘ar shlí na fírinne’. Whichever view we embrace, it’s something that will happen to us all.


Believe in the Movement

Marc Mulholland

The young Eric Hobsbawm was intoxicated by the ‘stern discipline’ the revolutionary organisation demanded of its adherents. ‘Ground yourself in Leninism,’ he admonished himself in his diary. The communist militant had to be ‘totally unscrupulous and outrageously flexible’.


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.


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.


A Little More Than Religion

Mary Jones

Catholic and Protestant are routinely employed in Northern Ireland as labels denoting ethno-nationalist divisions which date back centuries. But the divisions have little enough to do with theology, deriving more from distinct relations to land, power and political legitimacy.


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.


Resisting Populism

Breandán Mac Suibhne

Actor, journalist, Fenian activist, historian, victim of police brutality, and, latterly, lawyer and lobbyist Gus Costello wrote with sympathy of the plight of African Americans in the ‘draft riots’ of 1863, a conflict featuring Irishmen on both sides, as police protectors and as members of the mob.


Silence is Part of the Problem

Enda Wyley

Sarah Henstra’s novel about rape culture in the fraternity of an American Ivy League college can at times be a messy, difficult and violent read, but ultimately it is an important book, one that demands to be read and is not easily forgotten.


Elliptical Obit

Daniel Fraser

In Ann Quin’s fictional world acts of finality or resolution repeatedly come undone. A dead bird is buried and then dug up. Plans of escape are formulated and then abandoned. A corpse is disposed of and returns. Tissues of falsehood are constructed and destroyed. Business is always left unfinished.


How Perfectly the Parts Fit

Eiléan Ní Chuilleanáin

Michael Coady’s poems revolve around his home town of Carrick-on-Suir, where the river and the countryside are as essential to living as the air, but it is the presence of people, alive and dead, their relationships, memories, agreements and disagreements that fills them with life.


Beyond Tweedledum and Tweedledee

Frank Callanan

The thesis that there are no real differences between Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael does not hold water. The two parties have significant differences of attitude and approach, and to a limited degree of ideology. If this were not the case they would surely govern together rather than in alternation.


Stepping Into The Light

Susan McKay

Sinéad Gleeson is already known as a generous literary critic and anthologist, who has rescued the work of some shamefully neglected writers and whose perceptive author interviews are celebrations of the imagination. Now she has stepped out to shine with a luminosity all her own.


Not Just Tuneful But True

John O’Donnell

‘A verse may find him whom a sermon flies,’ George Herbert wrote. Like the metaphysicals, Micheal O’Siadhail incorporates a great deal of learning in his verse, bringing in major figures from Europe’s intellectual and spiritual journey. But is this history or poetry? The answer is yes.


Active Recovery

Marie Rooney

We first meet the author when he is twenty-eight, an aspiring writer resigned to suffering a bout of depression every summer since his mother’s death nine years earlier. He is diagnosed as bipolar but is reluctant to accept this, a position in which he is encouraged by a therapist.


Big and Little Lies

Henry Patterson

A new book argues that those who criticise the Good Friday Agreement for not creating a framework for dealing with the past or for not addressing the deep divide in the North, are missing the fundamental purpose of the accord, which was simply to deliver an end to violence.


The Deep Music of the World

Eiléan Ní Chuilleanáin

Michelle O’Sullivan’s three collections, but especially this new one, will convince many that her work should find its way to attentive readers, who it is hoped will not try to fit her into any boxes other than the big one marked ‘poets’, who will appreciate her skill with language and her alertness to the world’s music.


A Marlowe from Mayo

Pauline Hall

In the rural Ireland of the 1920s memories of the War of Independence and Civil War are still strong. The Garda Síochána stands at the forefront of efforts to normalise life in a traumatised society, yet they too, both as individuals and as a force, have problems winning trust.


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.


The Patriot Game

John Paul Newman

Far-right parties in formerly communist Europe tend to both inflate their opponents’ links with the communist period and their own links with the historical political blocs of the pre-communist period. It is a tendentious game whose odds are always stacked in favour of the right.


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.


Affinity with Far Away

Amanda Bell

A bilingual collection of Nuala Ní Dhomhnaill’s poems contains some new poems and many previously published. The decision to use new versions, suggesting that there is no definitive way of translating a poem, will no doubt give food for thought to students of translation studies.


Disturbing a Mighty Ghost

Bernard O’Donoghue

No figure in Greek myth is more ambiguous than Orpheus, who is both the musician who can charm wild beasts and the uxorious husband who wins his wife, Eurydice, back from the underworld. Theo Dorgan has brought something new and marvellously achieved to this rich nexus of story.


Getting to Grey

Liam Hennessy

Bipolar disorder has been explained as an attempt to create a world in which everything is either black or white. The illness can only be treated, it is suggested, when the important third element is introduced.


Astonished at Everything

Peter Sirr

Generosity and largeness of vision seem to meet happily in the poems of Uruguayan-French writer Jules Supervielle, which seem to cover great distances in short spaces.


All or Nothing

Joschka Fischer

Those Germans who argue so vehemently against a so-called transfer union should realise that the EU has always been such a union. France got the CAP for its large rural economy and Germany the common market for its strong industry. Little has changed since.


Birds, beasts and flowers

Gerald Dawe

DH Lawrence’s poetry offers a record of the powerful current of physical pleasure, the elusive joy of witnessing that which is different, and the kind of opinionated prickliness when things are not what they seem to be or should be.


The Stilled World

Nicola Gordon Bowe

Unsentimental, sparing and unspecific, the painter Patrick Pye has sought figurative images to represent symbolically “the archetypes of our humanity” depicted in an alternative universe where expiation has been achieved.


Forthcoming Events and News

A regularly updated diary of events of literary and artistic interest and news from the publishing and arts worlds


Not reading but yawning

Well of course we all love books. There’s absolutely nothing like a book. Nothing so gripping. Nothing so enthralling. So why do I sometimes fall asleep in my armchair?


Vanishing Dublin

A beautifully illustrated book published in a small edition in 1966 featuring descriptions of numerous streets and lanes in the capital has become a collector’s item. In Stephen Street the street sellers called out ‘Some good fish here!’, perhaps leaving open the possibility that there were some not so good too.


‘The Sentiments of my Heart’

John Rocque’s Dublin map offered an image of harmony, order and industry. It lied of course. But George II was so taken by it he hung it in his apartments. Perhaps on sleepless nights, Peter Sirr speculates, he climbed out of bed to count his way down Sackville Street or follow his little finger down the lanes of the old city.


Stockholm or Silicon Valley?

Childcare costs in Ireland absorb 28 per cent of disposable income; the European average is 12 per cent. We seem to be modelling our economy on the US, where there is no paid maternity leave. As increasing numbers of Irish people feel the squeeze, something is likely to give politically.


The Politics of English Nostalgia

Ireland has a tradition of seeking help from the Continent, in the form of soldiers, swords, cannon - generically fíon Spainneach. It’s not surprising that we are comfortable in the Union. For the British, where sovereignty has been long attested by ‘divers sundry old authentic histories’, it’s a different matter.


You can keep your Gucci loafers

A fifteenth century English treatise loudly complained of the tricky trade practices of foreigners and argued for a protectionist regime under which home industry would thrive. The future would be bright, since England dealt in solid goods everyone wanted while the foreigners sold only ‘fripperies, niffles and trifles’.


Rooney and MacLaverty in International Dublin award shortlist

Two novels by Irish authors, 'Conversations with Friends' by Sally Rooney and 'Midwinter Break' by Bernard MacLaverty, will compete with eight others from France, Pakistan, the UK and the USA for a prize that is worth €100,000 to the winner.


Anderlecht, Nine More

They say that keeping a pet and learning to look after it ‑ even experiencing its death ‑ can teach a child valuable lessons. So too can following a football team. It teaches you that though sometimes in life you can win you can just as easily lose. Oh how you can lose.


Take Her Up The Mendo

A huge influx of beggars displaced from the land frightened 19th century Dubliners: the benevolent were imposed upon, the modest shocked, the reflecting grieved and the timid alarmed, one observer wrote. In 1818 the Mendicity Institution in Hawkins Street was opened to deal with the problem.


The Poor Man At His Gate

The rich man in his castle, the poor man at his gate, God made them high and lowly, and ordered their estate. So the hymn went, and many in nineteenth century Ireland believed it. But not everyone.


How to Make a Killing

People will tell you it’s hard to make a fortune. Don’t listen to them. They’re the losers. They don’t know what they’re talking about. All you have to do to become seriously rich is follow three simple rules.


Housing Crisis

Ireland is dependent on inward investment, which is hostile to regulation of the market. At the same time our history is one of above average social integration and consensus. With the housing crisis, which will not be solved without huge state intervention, these two elements are headed for a clash.


Digging In

An architectural competition for a design for a new church in Clonskeagh in Dublin attracted 101 entries. The winning entry, from a young architect with the OPW, was modernist in style. But the archbishop of Dublin wasn’t having any of it. Instead a ‘monstrous barn’ was built.


WS Merwin 1927-2019

The much-decorated American poet – he won two Pulitzers and a National Book Award – was known for conveying ‘in the sweet simplicity of grounded language a sense of the self where it belongs, floating between heaven, earth and underground’.


Ernest Blythe and the Irish Language

Ernest Blythe, a south Antrim Protestant, appeared as the only Gaeilgeoir in his parish in the 1911 census. In this heavily Church of Ireland district, even the McCarthys and the Dohertys were Protestant.


What about us?

In an international survey of outstanding cultural achievement, can the author make judgments about what is excellent and must be included and what can be left out? Or should criteria of proportionality, even-handedness and, above all, inclusivity come into play?


Running on Empty

Asked why they are leaving, the Venezuelans crossing into Colombia reply that it’s because at home there is nothing – non hay nada. Venezuela’s collapse was not caused, as some have claimed, by the US, yet perhaps it is US backing for the opposition that most stands in the way of resolution.


Pirate Queen, Tony Lee and Sam Hart

The indomitable Grace O’Malley, pirate queen, is the heroine of a new graphic novel that will entertain and inform children from nine years upwards.


Nano Nagle, the Life and the Legacy, Raftery, Delaney and Nowlan-Roebuck

Nano Nagle’s emphasis on educating the Catholic poor had a political dimension and contributed to the integration of the several parts of Catholic Ireland into a whole which had the potential of politically focusing the majority. In this sense it is not too fanciful to see her  work as prefiguring that of O’Connell.


A Short History of Drunkenness, Mark Forsyth

A Ukrainian proverb can be taken to illustrate our human attraction – and perhaps our occasional uneasiness about that attraction – to alcohol, its pleasures and dangers. “The church is near,” it goes, “and the tavern is far. It is snowing heavily. I shall walk carefully.”


Monster Agitators: O’Connell’s Repealers, 1843 Ireland, Vincent Ruddy

O’Connell’s Monster Meetings came to an abrupt halt in October 1843 when the Viceroy  mobilsed four battalions of troops, some four hundred armed RIC and Metropolitan Police and moved three gunships into Dublin Bay 


Then Again, Pat Boran

In a poem about O’Connell Street’s Spire, the monument becomes a dagger, a skewer, an extended middle finger. None of the names are inclusive of us, the citizens; the Spire is the ‘we’ reduced to ‘I’, which might be seen as the opposite of Boran’s project, to expand the ‘I’ to ‘we’.


The Sex Economy, Monica O'Connor

Is prostitution, or ‘sex work’ as it is increasingly called, simply a market transaction, perfectly legitimate as long as the sale is voluntary? Or is it something which is inherently harmful, which sustains criminality and undermines the very idea of gender equality?


Why Nationalism, Yael Tamir,

But why should there be just two forms of nationalism? There is Trump’s “America First”, there is Viktor Orbán’s quite dour Hungarian nationalism, there is French nationalism, which is arguably based on a notion of cultural and intellectual superiority; there is Irish nationalism, there is Scottish nationalism and there is English nationalism, 


Europe’s Fault Lines: Racism and the Rise of the Right, Liz Fekete

Perhaps what most of us currently want to know about the extreme right is how dangerous is it? To which the answer might vary from country to country. And is it likely to become more dangerous? Will it be isolated, will it be contained, or will it be conciliated, comforted and brought in from the cold. 


Lotharingia: Europe’s Lost Country, Simon Winder

Pity the poor continental children who must grapple with Charles the Bald, Charles the Bold, Charles the Fat, Charles the Simple, Philip the Bold, Philip the Fair and a good dozen of Henrys. To all of this complexity, Winder is a perpetually good-humoured guide.


The Uninhabitable Earth, David Wallace-Wells

It’ll be forty degrees today in Alice Springs, in Australia’s Northern Territory, but it’s likely to go down to thirty-eight around midweek and then plummet to thirty-two in a fortnight’s time as autumn takes hold. But hey, what do I care? I don’t live in Alice Springs, I live in Dublin.


Show Them a Good Time, Nicole Flattery

It is not the standard quest for love. One woman hears her husband whisper “I love you” while they lie together under crisp ironed sheets as she frets about cockroaches. “She blinked anxiously in the dark, as if trying to identify something. ‘Go easy on that stuff’ she advised him.”


Who Killed My Father, Édouard Louis

“You’ve changed these past few years… We’ve talked a lot. We’ve explained ourselves.” Eddy’s father becomes proud of his gay son, the writer. He wants to know about the man his son loves. He is no longer afraid Eddy’s politics will get him in trouble, telling him “You're right, what we need is a revolution.”


Happening, Annie Ernaux

Perhaps the most striking thing about Annie Ernaux’s autofictional account of finding herself pregnant in Rouen in 1963, desperately wanting an illegal abortion but having no idea of how to go about it, is its cool and removed tone.