In praise of Claire Kilroy, by John Boyne

Irish Women Writers series: ‘She could be seen as the literary love-child of Jennifer Johnston and John Banville, reflecting the Anglo-Irish aristocratic concerns of the former with the incomparable linguistic precision of the latter’

Claire Kilroy: “Her first three novels, All Summer, Tenderwire and All Names Have Been Changed, form an intriguing trilogy exploring different aspects of creativity – painting, music and writing – and the often unsettling and obsessive relationship that develops between the artist and the art.” Photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill

Claire Kilroy: “Her first three novels, All Summer, Tenderwire and All Names Have Been Changed, form an intriguing trilogy exploring different aspects of creativity – painting, music and writing – and the often unsettling and obsessive relationship that develops between the artist and the art.” Photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill

 

Claire Kilroy isn’t one of my favourite women writers, she’s simply one of my favourite writers. Her first three novels, All Summer, Tenderwire and All Names Have Been Changed, form an intriguing trilogy exploring different aspects of creativity – painting, music and writing – and the often unsettling and obsessive relationship that develops between the artist and the art. Her fourth, The Devil I Know, is a surreal and frequently funny analysis of Ireland’s economic crash seen from the crumbling mansions of Howth, offering portraits of bankers and developers that are eviscerating but utterly lacking in cliche. Unafraid to experiment with narrative voice – two of her four novels are narrated by men – she could be seen as the literary love-child of Jennifer Johnston and John Banville, reflecting the Anglo-Irish aristocratic concerns of the former with the incomparable linguistic precision of the latter. In time, she will certainly earn her place in their exalted company.
Other favourites: Anne Enright and Maeve Binchy.

“We are a nation that likes nothing better than a good story, preferably featuring one of our own, ideally the parish black sheep.”
– Claire Kilroy, All Names Have Been Changed

John Boyne is the author of nine novels for adults and four for young readers, including The Boy In The Striped Pyjamas and A History of Loneliness.

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