Rory O’Neill, aka Panti Bliss: Books of the Year
Unflinching ‘Maggie and Me’ written with wry humour
Damian Barr’s Maggie and Me (Bloomsbury) is an unflinching memoir of a difficult childhood in 1980s working-class Scotland. After his parents split, the young boy, who graduates from loving The Muppets to loving Dynasty, is shunted back and forth between his put-upon mother and her violently abusive new boyfriend, and his steel-worker father and his uninterested, long-taloned new “dolly bird”.
Set against the constant background presence of the title’s Margaret Thatcher, it’s written with a wry humour even in its darkest moments.
I’m not usually drawn to war books, but, being easily led, I picked up Richard Flanagan’s The Narrow Road to the Deep North (Chatto & Windus) after it won the Man Booker, and I’m glad I did. Inspired by the author’s father’s experiences as a Japanese POW, it’s an epic, moving, powerful and at times harrowing novel that lingers in the mind long after you’ve closed the cover.
Woman in the Making, by Rory O’Neill, is published by Hachette Books Ireland