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

A Girl, Undaunted

Patricia Craig

A body in the coal hole of the Carlton Club; a strangulation with a Hermes scarf: Kate Atkinson has written a sophisticated and witty espionage novel which plays with the genre’s conventions while being partially based on a WWII spy’s memoir, a book with an unusual Irish dimension.


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.


Dublin in the Wars

Padraig Yeates

Before 1914 recruitment to the British army from Belfast was often less than half that of Dublin, although the Northern city had a larger population. But Belfast was an industrial powerhouse, not a sleepy provincial backwater dependent on the production of beer and biscuits.


Paris Destroyed, Paris Surviving

Seamus Deane

Paris has always been a moveable feast. There are many people, Parisians and others, who think the city was destroyed long before Hitler ordered it to be burned in 1944 and others who think it has been repeatedly destroyed since, in the name of renovation, development, restoration.


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.


The Return to Helicon

Aidan O’Malley

There has been a long tradition of classical rewritings in Ireland, with a significant surge from about 1970, when the last generation to undergo compulsory Classics at school found in Greek myth a valuable resource to consider the troubles and conflicts of their own era.


Starving Them Out

Martin Tyrrell

The naval blockade of Germany during the First World War is a subject that is little treated today. Yet estimates of civilian deaths caused by it range from around 400,000 to more than three-quarters of a million. Not until there were German signatures on the Treaty of Versailles was it fully lifted.


Counsel for Humanity

Pádraig McAuliffe

Hersch Lauterpacht and Raphael Lemkin, two of the fathers of modern international law, spent significant time in what is now the Ukrainian city of Lviv. A cultured oasis of Habsburg culture before the First World War, the city would change hands eight times between 1914 and 1944.


Once Upon a Space

Luke Gibbons

One of the main concerns of Brian O’Doherty’s collected essays is to raise questions about the retreat into subjectivity responsible for the cult of the personality in the art world. In an interview, O’Doherty confessed that he ‘never wished to make art from the degraded slums of my inner life’.


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.


The Integrity of the Past

Donal Moloney

A US library association has removed a classic children’s author’s name from a prestigious award. The move derives from an ideology that rejects the essential otherness of the past, instead demanding compliance and the burial of ‘outdated attitudes’ so deeply we will never know they existed.


The Kingdom of Bohemia

Conor Linnie

Cypriot restaurants, Italian barbers and French cafés gave London’s Soho a cosmopolitan atmosphere in the 1950s that stood out from the pervasive drabness. Dublin too had its artists’ haunts, with the link between the two cities taking particular form in the friendship between painters Lucian Freud and Patrick Swift.


Halting the Waves

David Blake Knox

In the last three years, more than two million immigrants – primarily young men – have entered EU states. The policies being followed by European governments in response to this phenomenon are not only harsh and oppressive, but may also be counter-productive.


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.


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.


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.


Homo Economicus

John Bradley

Modern economics often seems wilfully ignorant of the moral context its founder, Adam Smith, brought to the discipline. Smith fully understood the difference between a scientific theory and an investigation into human and societal behaviour. A science of man would always be different from a science of nature.


The Word as Trampoline

Maeve O’Sullivan

James Finnegan is a poet concerned with ideas and with ecological matters. His observant eye can zoom in to pick up details about birds, dogs, cats, horses, reindeer and even penguins. There is some dark humour at work too, as in an imagined reversal of the human-pet relationship.


Love in the Time of Austerity

Dawn Miranda Sherratt-Bado

An artful, nuanced take on life in post-Tiger Ireland, Sally Rooney’s Normal People is a breathtaking reflection on love and unequal exchange between two people seeking equilibrium in a time of perilous instability.


High Jinks and Down to Earth

Gerard Smyth

A poetry collection by broadcaster John Kelly is flush with acute observation and understanding, as well as sparkling felicities of imaginative detail and linguistic invention. The references range from popular culture to the natural world, with the poems marked by both gravity and wit.


A Book of Discomfort

Enda Wyley

Many people say they turn to poetry for comfort. They would be advised to avoid Jessica Traynor’s work, where death and the dead are a restless, persistent force and witches direct vicious and violent magic at men in payment for their transgressions.


Mystics and Villagers

Thomas Goggin

The Indian poems of Gabriel Rosenstock’s latest collection are populated by saints and stics and interspersed with allusions that reinforce an image of timelessness and transcendence, many exploring the no-man’s-land separating the known and the metaphysical world.


Charging Ahead

Ronan Sheehan

Kevin Kiely’s poetic aim is to manufacture insight, create a visionary moment, by hurling the elements of language together, by creating a linguistic explosion. This system works often enough to make the effort worthwhile, and more than that, a pleasure, rewarding.



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.


At Least Two Irelands

Michael O’Loughlin

There has been a welcome explosion of novels by young Irish women, but they often seem strangely conventional in form and content. Emer Martin cannot be accused of that. It is her unconventionality, perhaps, that has led to her curious invisibility at the forefront of Irish literature.


Narrative Joyride

Afric McGlinchey

In a new collection of short stories, Nuala O’Connor, already known as a novelist and poet, shows what she can do in another form. Secrets, skeletons and the grey areas of morality are her specialty. She writes without a vestige of sentimentality, while still creating a lump-in-the-throat reaction.


Surveying the Wreckage

Dick Edelstein

As both a global writer and an Irish poet, a noteworthy aspect of Jo Burns’s poetry is, rather than the way she views the world, how the world views her. Living at the margins of the English language, with German offspring and spouse, her erudite idiolect can be spiced with fractured syntax or diced diction.


Not the Cartographer of Guilt

Mark Wasserman

Anyone who has had the pleasure of hearing Neil McCarthy read aloud tends to remember the experience. Equal parts showman and shaman, he stalks the stage, reciting his work from memory, pouring forth both wit and wonder. On the page, his voice is not just captured but deepened.


In A Hard School

Susan McKay

Emilie Pine’s father had what she has called ‘an unusual approach to parenting’, consisting of neglect of his duties in favour of the pursuit of his first love, alcohol. Pine survived this upbringing and has now written a wonderful, compassionate book about her and her family’s life and travails.


Get Down from There

Alice Lyons

In her native Poland Olga Tokarczuk has the enviable position of being an author of books seriously engaged with ideas, politics and history who enjoys a wide readership, now steadily and deservedly growing internationally.


Lean In And Listen

Anne Tannam

Martina Evans’s new volume consists of two dramatic monologues featuring the voices of two women from the War of Independence and Civil War periods. Though the monologuists never meet, their stories are fused through the featuring of a third character, Cumann na mBan member Eileen Murphy.


Dazzled by Words

Jean O’Brien

The intermingling of the religious with everyday life, and an ease with it, is evident throughout Noel Monahan’s latest collection. Religious markers are mentioned casually punctuating the seasons, with the yellow whin bushes blooming at Easter, and following the rhythms of everyday life.


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.


Come back to Erin?

James Joyce’s strategy was to write as an exile from Ireland. That this exile should follow him into eternity was not part of the plan. In the early years after his death the Irish authorities displayed great hostility towards him. That has changed. Is it time to think of bringing his body home?


Liberalism Under Threat

If politics continues on its present path discourse will become entirely populist and practice increasingly totalitarian, the charismatic leader ubiquitous, elections irregular, their outcomes predictable and the concept of society invoked only in terms of security rather than social justice.


In the Beginning was the Word

Frank Hugh O’Donnell’s 'The Ruin of Education in Ireland', published in 1902, interpreted the Catholic church’s control of education as a British conspiracy to keep the Irish intellect stunted.


Out with the old, in with the new

The Irish Party, being purely a vehicle to obtain Home Rule, was much more circumscribed than a modern political party, free to champion a diversity of issues. All its eggs were in one basket. From 1900 that gave it an appearance of intellectual jadedness and left it open to competition.


Not Just Kooky

David Lynch spent five years getting Eraserhead made, from a screenplay of just twenty-one pages. One might think that only an extreme eccentric would make such efforts, but the image of Lynch as simply a kooky man is one that a new book sets out to dispel.


Chained to the Magus

If the threat that president-elect Jair Bolsonaro poses to democracy is as grave as Workers Party leaders claim, one wonders why they did not back someone who had a good chance of defeating him? In refusing to do so Lula has helped deliver up Brazil to Bolsonaro, his bastard heir.


Remembering Bernard Loughlin

Bernard, the first director, with his wife, of the Annaghmakerrig writers' retreat, was a man to whom tranquility, the driest of humour and a down-to-earth sense of the ethereal seemed to come naturally.


Getting Wasted

A 1997 book, written as the memoir of a ‘Gen X Drunk’, apparently without literary merit and now out of print, might have given members of the US Senate an idea of who might or might not be suitable to sit on the Supreme Court, particularly in its portrayal of the author’s boozy friend ‘Bart O’Kavanaugh’.


The Day All Hell Broke Loose

Fifty years ago today a police attack on a peaceful civil rights march in Derry initiated the latest phase of that long-running Irish phenomenon ‘the Troubles’. Was everything that followed inevitable or might things have developed differently?


A Killer for President

Brazil, the world's fourth largest democracy, faces the prospect of electing a violent and threatening military man as president. He can be stopped, but only if the other parties come together to save the situation.


Candide in the Eternal City

A French novel of the 1950s portrayed a still pagan Rome in which cardinals were addicted to scheming, money could buy sainthood and truth was not as simple to a young priest as it had once seemed. The novel was shocking for the time and was banned in Italy.


Brothers in Religion

Two seventeenth century siblings from north Donegal are said to have become, through an odd set of circumstances, ministers of rival religions, one an Anglican minister the other a Franciscan friar. The story is thought to be the source of the Gaelic lament ‘Fil, fil, aroon’.


A Mission for the Führer

In May 1940, the German spy Hermann Goertz parachuted into Ireland, his mission to induce the IRA to hinder the British war effort by mounting attacks in Northern Ireland. He remained at large for a surprisingly long time, with many protectors, among whom women featured particularly strongly.


Yeats at Ballylee

Rarely read and barely performed, Yeats’s plays are mostly forgotten by theatre companies – despite considerable virtues of portability, adaptability and cheapness. A recent performance at Thoor Ballylee in Galway of ‘The Only Jealousy of Emer’ marvellously shows what can be done.


A pase around old Dublin

John Speed’s 1610 Dublin map is one of the best-known images of the city, a picture of an intimate medieval town which was soon to embark on its modern expansion. Speed himself, writes Peter Sirr, may never have visited Dublin, rather having, as he cheerfully admitted, ‘put my sickle into other mens corne’.


Tuam Excavation

Ninety writers and artists call for a complete excavation and enumeration of the victims of Tuam. Memorialisation is not enough.


Out of the Dark

The McGaherns lived in a poor, rickety house in the middle of a field. All that is left now is a rusty gate in a prickly hedge and an empty, rushy meadow. It is extraordinary to think that out of this remote and unpromising place came a great writer and literature of world renown.