Echoland by Joe Joyce
Joe Joyce: “Echoland” reminds how precarious the present was and how comprehensively we forget that it was so. Photo Chris Bellew/Fennell Photography.
New Island Books
Post Hilary Mantel’s Reith Lectures on historical fiction, I’m newly converted: Yay! let’s make the past dance again. Joe Joyce’s historical yarn, set in 1940s Dublin, with Hitler on the brink of gobbling up the universe including England, neatly reminds how precarious the present was/is and how comprehensively we forget that it was so. Intertwining two stories – German spies, a Fianna Fáil TD with IRA links whose daughter is kidnapped, or is she? – Echoland reprises the fervid atmosphere in Dublin, with the IRA and the FF TD toying with Germany in return for a United Ireland. Joyce’s “culchie” hero, Duggan, and wise cracking G2 wingman, Gifford, are nicely drawn, and the streets of “Dirty Ole” duly revived, but there are weaknesses: would 1940s wiseacres have used “no problem” or “doing her nut”? And oh, please publishers, bring back editors; an editorial strimming would do wonders here. Echoland was chosen for the 2017 Dublin City Council festival, One City One Book, with two other books in the series, Echobeat and Echowave.