50 books to keep you reading all year long
We’ve asked a bunch of independent and smaller publishers to tell us about a couple of their titles this year. Why single them out instead of asking the industry giants? In part it’s because, at a time when corporate publishing seems so risk averse, as Kevin Duffy of Bluemoose Books puts it, “It is the independents who are doing most of the heavy lifting in finding the new writers and voices that resonate and engage the reader.”
The Dublin-based Stinging Fly Press was the first to bring us books by Kevin Barry, Mary Costello and Colin Barrett, for example, and Galley Beggar Press, a British independent, was behind two recent winners of the Desmond Elliott Prize for debut novels, last year’s We That Are Young, by Preti Taneja, and, in 2014, Eimear McBride’s A Girl Is a Half-Formed Thing.
The Lilliput Press, the well-known Irish publisher, sees the role of the independent as discovering “those who have something important to contribute to Irish life, to celebrate individual voices and to give a home to work that other, more commercial houses may overlook”.
The modern reader expects books to read well, but also to be beautiful, desirable objects that appeal to all the senses
That kind of choice is clearly resonating with readers. Most of last year’s Irish Book Awards “went to native publishers, which was great”, says Ivan O’Brien of the O’Brien Press, who is also president of Publishing Ireland. He adds that Irish publishers had a “really strong finish” to 2018 in sales and critical reception, too.
“With a healthy bookshop scene and an audience that clearly still wants Irish books for readers of all ages, we’re confident 2019 will be good,” he says.“The modern reader expects books to read well, but also to be beautiful, desirable objects that appeal to all the senses – and we can’t wait to show the world the gorgeous books we have up our sleeves.”
Mike Collins of Cork University Press, which includes the Attic Press and Atrium imprints, says it aims, as an academic publisher, to release “the highest-quality work and to disseminate that information widely – but sometimes the success of a book can go way beyond its publication sales and reach a much larger audience.” That’s exactly what has happened for its award-winning Atlas of the Irish Revolution, on which RTÉ has based The Irish Revolution, its new documentary, narrated by Cillian Murphy, which is due to be shown on RTÉ One next month.
Christopher Hamilton-Emery is celebrating the 20th anniversary of his press, Salt Publishing, this year. What have been the key lessons of the past two decades? “Firstly, that skilled people and their relationships are central to the book trade. Secondly, that literature is the product of its readerships. Thirdly, that every silver lining has a cloud.”
We feel like we’re riding a fantastic wave of enthusiasm for small presses and our authors
That cloud, for some small British publishers, is Brexit. “We feel like we’re riding a fantastic wave of enthusiasm for small presses and our authors,” says Eloise Millar of Galley Beggar Press, mentioning Taneja’s Desmond Elliott Prize. “But Brexit and its likely fallout has taken all bets off the table. It’s going to have a catastrophic effect on publishing – and the smaller presses, unbuffered by bestsellers, are those who are most likely to suffer.”
Perhaps that’s even more reason to keep reading. Nikki Griffiths of Melville House UK says they’re publishing more titles than ever: “Books that challenge and inspire, books addressing neglected or little-known issues, and stories and books to escape into amid the Brexit uncertainty.”
Here are each publisher’s pick of two of its standout titles in 2019.
And Other Stories
The Polyglot Lovers
By Lina Wolff; May 2nd in UK; April 2nd in United States
“Everyone will love it,” Stefan Tobler of And Other Stories says of this Swedish author’s second novel. When it published her debut novel, Bret Easton Ellis and the Other Dogs, it was her only foreign publisher. Now Lina Wolff has 17. Smart, surprising and funny, and always circling around #MeToo concerns, the book features Ellinor, a working-class, small-town Swedish woman who asks her date to teach her to fight, a metropolitan literary critic who hides his complete collection of Michel Houellebecq novels behind more politically correct novels, an impoverished Italian aristocrat, and a manuscript, also called The Polyglot Lovers, that leaves no one unaffected.
By Ann Quin; March 7th in UK; June 5th in United States
On the heels of 2018’s well-received The Unmapped Country, a collection of Ann Quin’s unpublished stories and final, unfinished novel, comes this reissue of her first novel. And Other Stories says that Berg, set in a seedy 1960s Brighton, is madcap and macabre. The title character, who is calling himself Greb, has tracked down his long-lost father, who is now a washed-up music-hall performer. Greb wants to kill him but is comically unable to.
By Martin Dyar; September 1st
This is the much-anticipated follow-up to Martin Dyar’s debut poetry collection, Maiden Names, which Bernard O’Donoghue described as a thrilling new development in Irish poetry, and Roy Foster called funny, astute and marvellously judged. The poems in Burke’s Goddess, says Alan Hayes of Arlen House, show a development of Dyar’s gift for narrative lyricism, his eye for the tight boundary between the animal and the human, and his delicate mining of medical and agricultural themes.
Origami Doll: New and Collected Poems
By Shirley McClure, edited by Jane Clarke; May 1st
This book contains two full collections and new poems finished before Shirley McClure’s untimely death, from cancer, in 2016. The poems are distinguished by an interplay of humour and poignancy, ebullience and restraint, and sassiness and tenderness, according to Alan Hayes of Arlen House. “This is a book to accompany us through the pain and joy of being human, for it is courageous in facing suffering and loss, compassionate in reflecting our responses and celebratory in showing how love and hope persist.”
Leonard and Hungry Paul
By Rónán Hession; March 20th
Leonard and Hungry Paul are friends who see the world differently. They use humour, board games and silence to steer their way through the maelstrom of the 21st century. Leonard and Hungry Paul is about uncelebrated people who have the ability to change the world not by effort or force but through their appreciation of all that is special and overlooked. Written by a civil servant and indie musician who lives in Dublin, it is BBC Radio 2’s Book Club title for March.
Caravan of the Lost and Left Behind
By Deirdre Shanahan; May
At a time of dislocation, becoming unanchored and Brexit upheaval – leaving the European family after nearly 50 years – this novel, by a writer who was born in England but grew up in Ireland, is apposite. It looks at transition and permanence, the need for home and belonging, the disturbance when you’re wrenched out of your natural environment, especially in an Irish context, and the jarring effect of movement between rural areas and cities.
Palestine + 100
Edited by Basma Ghalayini; May 16th
Following the success of the 2017 anthology Iraq + 100, a book of the year for the Guardian and Barnes & Noble, this new collection of stories is set in 2048, a century after the Nakba, or Day of Catastrophe, exploring the long-term consequences for a future version of Palestine. As well as being an exercise in escaping the politics of the present in a country that some have called the largest prison in the world, Palestine + 100 is an opportunity for contemporary Arabic writers to offer their own spin on science fiction and fantasy.
The Dressing-Up Box
By David Constantine; July 18th
The tales in the much-anticipated fifth collection from the winner of the BBC and Frank O’Connor short-story awards orbit around a moment of personal crisis. Many of the protagonists are children; loved, abused, in danger, they represent threatened hope for a better future. Comma’s publishing of this collection shows that small presses can maintain long-term relationships with authors even after awards and international acclaim.
Cork University Press/Attic Press
Essays on John McGahern: Assessing a Literacy Legacy
Edited by Derek Hand and Eamon Maher; April
This collection of scholarly essays shows why the Co Leitrim writer has assumed canonical status since his premature death, in 2006. Themes such as violence, love and desire, ecology, memory, friendship, photography, rage and sin are examined in terms of how they illuminate this writer’s special gifts. New insights come from Declan Kiberd, a former pupil at Belgrove national school, where McGahern taught, and from Donal Ryan, a writer who shares his predecessor’s preoccupation with people and place.
Protestant and Irish: The Minority’s Search for a Place in Independent Ireland
Edited by Ian d’Alton and Ida Milne; March
Even before the end of the union with Britain, southern Irish unionists were being represented as a stateless, rootless community. Popular opinion has often erroneously conflated 26-county Protestantism with 26-county unionism, but the two are not synonymous. This book of essays aims to show that, as well as how Irish Protestants searched for and found a place in the new Ireland – a place quite different from the pastiche of them as a West Briton hunting elite.
The Dedalus Press
By Mary Noonan; February
The poems in Stone Girl, Mary Noonan’s second collection, are beguiled by stone, especially stone statues of women: the statue of the Virgin carried through Seville on Easter Sunday; Camille Claudel’s sculpture showing Clotho, the youngest of the three Fates, as a destitute old woman; the caryatids of Paris, seeming to carry the city’s buildings on their shoulders. The allure of stone is matched by a persistent reflection on the nature of skin, and “what skin remembers”.
By Pat Boran; March
Treasures in galleries, artefacts on museum shelves, found objects of all shapes and sizes, the presence and shadow of the past... Pat Boran’s latest collection finds inspiration far from the poet’s trademark starting point of autobiography. Instead in Then Again he looks determinedly outwards, giving himself to chance and surprise, visiting parts of Ireland, Italy, France, Spain, Cyprus and elsewhere, travelling light and without expectation, and on the way discovering some of the unexpected connections between the past and present, between our personal histories and our shared fate.
Four Courts Press
Lady Butler: War Artist and Traveller, 1846-1933
By Catherine Wynn; March
This is the first biography of the Victorian British war artist Elizabeth Thompson Butler. As Elizabeth Thompson she became a celebrity after exhibiting her Crimean War painting The Roll Call, in 1874. She transformed war art by depicting conflict trauma, decades before its designation as a medical condition. She married a Tipperary man, William Butler, and in 1905 settled in Ireland, where she witnessed the turbulence of the War of Independence and the Civil War. The book is large-format, with some big reproductions of her paintings.
The Making of Inequality in the Irish Free State, 1922-37: Women, Power and Gender Ideology
By Maryann Gialanella Valiulis; August
How did Ireland travel from the glorious Proclamation of 1916, with its promise of equality and universal citizenship, to the conservative constitution of 1937, which allowed for only a domestic identity for women? This book is a study of that journey, written by a fellow emerita of Trinity College Dublin, who served as director of its centre for gender and women’s studies there from 1993 to 2012.
Galley Beggar Press
By Lucy Ellmann; July 4th
Lucy Ellmann’s Ducks, Newburyport has already been making headlines as a book to watch in 2019, and with good reason, according to Eloise Millar of Galley Beggar Press. “It’s 900 pages, it’s one sentence long... and it feels like the Great American Novel we’ve all been waiting for. All of the USA is in it: right and wrong, better and worse – and with frequent detours into the wild insanity of Donald Trump’s White House. It’s also America seen through female eyes. The narrative plunges the reader inside the head of a stay-at-home mother struggling to pay her medical bills, communicate with her teenage daughter, put food on the table, keep her home safe. It’s fiery, furious and terrifically funny.”
By Toby Litt; August
Patience is about Elliott. He may well be a genius, but he is also a boy unable to speak or walk, and living in a Catholic children’s home in 1979. Eloise Millar describes Patience as almost two novels in one: the first a bitter-sweet meditation on the frailties and pleasures of language and communication; the second a glorious celebration of childhood, friendship and the sheer pleasure of running riot. The plot revolves around a breakout attempt by the children – “It’s a bit like Samuel Beckett got drunk, decided to have a bit of fun, and wrote The Great Escape.”
The History Press
Irish History Matters
By Brian M Walker
Subtitled Politics, Identities and Commemoration, and planned for publication “in the aftermath of Britain leaving the EU in March 2019”, this book by the professor emeritus of Irish studies at Queen’s University Belfast considers not just Irish history but also how perspectives and treatments of that history have affected modern Ireland, north and south. Although knowledge of history can help explain our contemporary situation, an awareness of some of the myths and misuses of our history can further help create a framework for understanding our current political and social challenges.
Who Owns Ireland
By Kevin Cahill; March
The author of Who Owns Britain – one of the journalists responsible for the original Sunday Times Rich List – looks at the hidden truth of land ownership in Ireland, promising an exposé of Ireland’s most valuable asset, its land. His investigations aim to reveal the breakdown of land ownership across 32 counties, to show the truth about the people and institutions that own the ground beneath our feet.
Singer in the Night
By Olja Savicevic, translated from the Croatian by Celia Hawkesworth; April 15th
Following the success of her debut novel, Farewell, Cowboy, Olja Savicevic’s Singer in the Night is billed as a rich, sensual story that comments on communal perception, on how life is really lived – never objectively, never encompassing the whole truth, yet no less real to us. Set on the Adriatic coast of Croatia, the book is full of local colour and atmosphere.
By Faruk Sehic, translated from the Bosnian by Mirza Puric; May 15th
In her review of the author’s previous novel, Eileen Battersby described Quiet Flows the Una as “one man’s non-heroic, very human engagement with hell, and the scars that never heal”. Istros describes Under Pressure as Sehic’s debut collection of brutal and heart-wrenching stories, inspired by his experiences as a soldier during the Bosnian war.
The Lilliput Press
Love Notes from a German Building Site
By Adrian Duncan; April 4th
This is the story of Paul, a young Irish engineer, who follows his girlfriend, Evelyn, to Berlin and begins work on the renovation of a commercial building on Alexanderplatz. As the narrator explores the mind’s fragile architecture, he begins to map his own strange geography through a series of notebooks, or “love notes”. The novel is at once the age-old emigrant’s tale, an account of exile and isolation, yet also a treatise on language, memory, building and desire. Lilliput bills Duncan as an exciting new voice in Irish fiction.
By Mary Cregan; April
In this “startlingly frank and fearless” memoir, Mary Cregan guides the reader through her experiences of grief, despair, medical intervention and recovery – while working in New York in her late 20s, the author suffers the loss of her first child, Anna, and is plunged into a suicidal depression. She still bears the scars of this trauma, both literally and figuratively. Cregan links her own experiences with a medical and cultural history of mental illness. The Scar illuminates this often stigmatised affliction with grace and compassion, according to Lilliput, and offers hope to those still struggling.
By Inese Zandere, illustrated by Reinis Petersons, retold by Catherine Ann Cullen; February 7th
Almost every child hates going to the doctor: it means taking medicine, having their temperature taken, maybe even having to go for surgery. This illustrated collection of rhymes should help make being sick a little less scary, with poems about things like broken bones, chickenpox and having an injection, and with characters to make young readers laugh and smile. Originally written in Latvian by Inese Zandere, the retelling for Irish readers is by the award-winning poet Catherine Ann Cullen. It sounds like an ideal get-well-soon gift for readers aged four and over.
The Deepest Breath
By Meg Grehan; May 9th
Stevie is 11 and loves reading and sea creatures. She lives with her mum and has been best friends with Andrew since forever. Stevie’s mum teases that someday they’ll get married, but Stevie knows that won’t ever happen. There’s a girl at school she likes more. A lot more. Actually, she’s a bit confused about how much she likes her. It’s nothing like the way she likes Andrew. It makes her fizz inside. That’s a new feeling, one she doesn’t understand. Stevie needs to find out if girls can like girls – love them, even – but it’s hard to get any information, and she’s too shy to ask about it. But maybe she can find an answer in a book. The Deepest Breath will be of special relevance to young girls starting to realise that they are attracted to other girls, but it is also a story for any young reader with an open mind who wants to understand how people’s emotions affect their lives. From the winner of the Children’s Books Ireland Eilis Dillon Award 2018.
Melville House UK
This Chair Rocks: A Manifesto Against Ageism
By Ashton Applewhite; March 7th
Ashton Applewhite, an activist, journalist and expert on ageing and ageism who has addressed the United Nations and given a Ted Talk, looks historically at the root of ageism and at our shifting attitudes over the years, and examines ageist myths and stereotypes. Melville House bills her book as a rousing call to action that will help readers think about their own possible prejudices and how to change things.
The Mannequin Makers
By Craig Cliff; June 6th
Set in small-town New Zealand at the end of the 19th century, Craig Cliff’s debut follows the fate of Colton Kemp, a window-dresser whose livelihood is threatened when a man simply known as the Carpenter comes to town and is instantly in huge demand. Kemp hatches a dark plan to make his name and thwart his rival, the consequences of which will echo through the years. The American novelist Eowyn Ivey describes it as “a story of dark obsession and family entanglements that will pull you in like a strong undertow”.
By Henry McDonald; August
Merrion says this is an “extraordinarily accomplished” second novel from the Guardian and Observer’s Ireland correspondent. Two Souls follows three teenage hoodlums, disillusioned socialists swimming against tribal tides and a doomed teen romance that leaves a bitter, lethal legacy. The story incorporates a young punk torn by personal demons, a football hooligan shadowed by the presence of a psychopathic school friend, and a vengeful future terrorist. Set in Belfast, it moves between a love story in punk-infused 1978, a frenzied 1979 Irish Cup Final, and the internal paramilitary blood-letting of 1987. Think Irvine Welsh meets Martin Amis, says its publisher, Conor Graham.
Burned: The Inside Story of How the RHI “Cash for Ash” Scandal Exposed Northern Ireland’s Powerful Elite
By Sam McBride; September
Shockwave has followed shockwave since the whistle was blown on Northern Ireland’s renewable-heat incentive scheme, which saw the Stormont government pay £1.60 for every £1 of fuel burned in wood-pellet boilers. Merrion Press says Sam McBride’s book exposes incompetence in the civil service that has been running Northern Ireland without democratic oversight since the collapse of the power-sharing executive, and both ineptitude and misuse of power by politicians. At the bottom of the heap, hundreds of innocent people suddenly found their livelihoods hanging in the balance. Sam McBride is the Belfast News Letter’s political editor and an authority on the Cash for Ash scandal.
New Daughters of Africa: An International Anthology of Writing by Women of African Descent
Edited by Margaret Busby; March 8th
Showcasing the work of more than 200 women writers of African descent from across the globe – Antigua to Zimbabwe, Angola to the United States – this collection celebrates their contributions to literature and international culture. Look out for Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, Zadie Smith, Warsan Shire, Malorie Blackman, Patience Agbabi, Roxanne Gay and Bernadine Evaristo. The anthology includes memoir, short stories, speeches, novel extracts, poetry and journalism to demonstrate the diversity and achievements of black women who remain under-represented, and whose works continue to be under-rated, in world culture.
(A Girl’s Guide To) Sensible Footwear
By Kate Charlesworth; July
Sensible Footwear is a glorious political and personal history of lesbians since the middle of the last century, documenting hidden histories and decades of change and celebrating lesbian lives from the domestic to the diva. As Kate Charlesworth, a cartoonist who grew up in northern England in the 1950s, gradually realised she was “different”, she took Dusty Springfield and Billie Jean King as her role models and made up icons of her own through her comic-strip characters.
New Island Books
The Killing of Thomas Niedermayer
By David Blake Knox; May
David Blake Knox brings his storytelling credentials to bear on this tragic figure of the Troubles. After being kidnapped by the IRA, Thomas Niedermayer, a German businessman caught up in a war he had prided himself on staying out of, was killed while trying to escape. His disappearance shattered the lives of those close to him. Blake Knox highlights the savage reach of the Northern Ireland conflict and the ongoing private cost of war.
The Cruelty of the Gods: Aesop’s Fables for Our Times
By Carlo Gébler, illustrated by Gavin Weston; April
Carlo Gébler takes a radical approach to Aesop’s fables, purging them of all the moralising clutter of their Victorian and early-20th-century popularisers so the Greek storyteller can sing in his own voice again – by turns playful, crude, bawdy and fickle, the tales were never simply didactic. This illustrated edition is aimed firmly at adults.
The O’Brien Press
From the Air: Ireland’s Wild Atlantic Way
By Raymond Fogarty; February 18th
Raymond Fogarty takes to the air – or, at least, sends his camera up on a drone – to showcase the Wild Atlantic Way, whose 2,500km take in verdant forests, rugged cliffs, golden beaches and uninhabited islands from Co Donegal to Co Cork. Fogarty, who specialises in aerial photography, combines his love of technology and the natural world to promote Ireland’s natural and made beauty.
Where Are You, Puffling?
By Gerry Daly and Erika McGann; February 4th
One sunny morning on Skellig Michael a little puffling decides to go on an adventure. When she gets lost the animals of the Skelligs must work together to come up with a rescue plan. This debut picture book from the illustrator Gerry Daly, retold by the award-winning children’s author Erika McGann, is based on an original story by Gerry’s uncle Sean Daly. Sean had the idea for it after noticing that the puffins and rabbits on Skellig Michael shared burrows; they’d surely help each other in times of need, he imagined. Sean died before he could see the book published; in tribute, Gerry has based the white-haired, bearded boatman in the story on his white-haired, bearded uncle.
Untying the Knot: How to Consciously Uncouple in the Real World
By Kate Gunn
Part personal story, part expert guide, Untying the Knot takes you through the process of separation as both parents and friends, from the first days of heartache through telling the children, what to do with the family home, and dealing with conflicts to finding yourself, coming out the other side and much more. Expert advice comes from Emma Kenny, resident psychologist on ITV’s This Morning; Stella O’Malley, psychotherapist and author of Cotton Wool Kids and Bully-Proof Kids; Sara Byrne, clinical psychologist; and Deirdre Burke, lawyer and family-law mediator.
The Complete Guide to the Best Pubs and Bars in Dublin
By Kevin Martin; February
Unarguably, according to Irish people, the best pubs in the world are in Ireland, and unarguably, according to Dubliners, the best pubs in Ireland are in Dublin. The Complete Guide to the Best Pubs and Bars in Dublin is based on surveys, questionnaires and extensive experience, and served with a generous helping of social and cultural history.
Tales of Independence & Belonging
Edited by Alison Evans and Alexandra Büchler; April 1st
This anthology of short fiction promises to disturb, to challenge and to capture the uneasy mood since the surprise result of the Brexit referendum of June 2016 confirmed divisions across the UK and Europe, echoing a global sea change in political and societal attitudes, shared identity and tolerance of otherness. These 13 commissioned stories each offer a unique response: urban neighbours struggle to share space, political clashes inflame a WhatsApp feud between old friends, a loyal subject doubts the wisdom of a life dedicated to the queen of someone else’s country, and a not-so-far-away dystopia considers how far workers might go to pay the rent.
By Dónall Mac Amhlaigh, translated by Micheál Ó hAodha; September 1st
Dónall Mac Amhlaigh (1926-89), a key Irish-language writer, is best known for his novels and short stories about the lives of the more than 500,000 people who left Ireland for postwar Britain. This is the first English translation of Deoraithe, one of the few novels to explore this “silent” or “lost generation” of emigrants, who were “building England up and tearing it down again”.
A year of women in translation
Only 30 per cent of books published in translation are by women, so this year Peirene Press is tackling this by publishing only women authors. It starts the year with Children of the Cave (February 15th), by Virve Sammalkorpi, translated from the Finnish by Emily Jeremiah and Fleur Jeremiah. A neo-Victorian Gothic tale of adventure and intrigue, it follow a young explorer into the Russian wilderness as he grapples with philosophical questions about what it means to be human and the real threat of his fellow travellers. Next is You Would Have Missed Me (June), by Birgit Vanderbeke, translated from the German by Jamie Bulloch. Autofiction written in Vanderbeke’s stream-of-consciousness style, it follows her flight from East to West Germany. Last is Faces on the Tip of My Tongue (September), by Emmanuelle Pagano, translated from the French by Sophie Lewis and Jennifer Higgins. This collection follows the lives of those on the periphery of society, weaving together the mad, the mysterious and the disposed of a rural French village.
Penned in the Margins
By Rebecca Tamás; March 20th
Penned in the Margins calls Rebecca Tamás’s debut collection a startling, brilliantly conceived exploration of female voice and power through the archetype of the witch, her poems spells (and hexes) that lift off the page with vivid, daring language and dark humour, shot through with a close attention to the natural world. Tamás challenges us to think of history – and the future – differently.
After the Formalities
By Anthony Anaxagorou; September 2nd
Anthony Anaxagorou, a British-born Cypriot, confronts issues of race, gender and masculinity in this collection. The title poem is a reading of race science filtered through memory and family history. “It’s extraordinary,” says Tom Chivers of Penned in the Margins. “Anthony’s poems often draw on personal experience to open up conversations with the reader, and in that sense they are profoundly generous. As the parent of a young child, I was particularly bowled over by his tender portraits of fatherhood. In one he writes, ‘I’m your father and the only person keeping you alive.’ This is poetry with both emotional impact and social purpose.”
A Perfect Explanation
By Eleanor Anstruther; March 15th
A Perfect Explanation is a book that will leave you reeling, according to Salt Publishing, whose director Christopher Hamilton-Emery says it gets to the heart of what it is to be bound by gender, heritage and tradition. He calls it an extraordinary book that conveys the unspoken with vivid simplicity.
By Andrew Cowan; May 15th
Beautifully crafted, unsettling and vivid, Salt says, this book perfectly highlights the subtleties and mysteries of everyday life, creating a world that seems ordinary even while something ominous bubbles just beneath the surface. The narrative balances between a kind of universality and an arresting specificity, it adds, exploring the relationship between memory and guilt as it builds towards its electrifying ending.
The Nature of Spring
By Jim Crumley; April 4th
In the third of Jim Crumley’s well-received Seasons books, which chronicle each of the seasons over four years, he showcases Scotland’s spectacular nature with lyrical prose, also laying bare the long-term impact of climate change. Crumley has spent much of his life out in the Highlands, researching species numbers, locations and behaviours, so he knows his own nature-writing territory like the back of his hand, and his experience and deep-seated knowledge reveal much about the changing natural world.
A Proper Person to Be Detained
Catherine Czerkawska; July 4th
In a genre-defying book, Catherine Czerkawska tells the tragic story of the murder of one of her Irish-immigrant ancestors in 1880s Leeds. But it’s so much more than a straightforward “true crime” book, says publisher Sara Hunt. Czerkawska’s quest for the facts uncovers the truth behind family secrets and reveals what life was really like for some of society’s most marginalised groups: Irish immigrants, women and the working class.
Make Me a City
By Jonathan Carr; March
An ambitious novel with an audacious premise: what happens if you take as your central protagonist not a person but an entire city? Against a backdrop of 19th-century industrialisation and wave after wave of immigration, Jonathan Carr tells the stories of the key people who shaped Chicago over a tumultuous century, including Irish immigrants both notorious and legendary.
Stop Being Reasonable
By Eleanor Gordon-Smith; July
After a failed attempt to persuade the men who catcalled her to stop, Eleanor Gordon-Smith, a young philosopher and journalist, was inspired to try to discover why it’s so hard to convince people to change their views. In Stop Being Reasonable she tells seven gripping stories, Scribe says, that show the limits of human reason and persuasion. From a woman who realised her husband harboured a terrible secret to a man who left the cult he had been born into and raised in, they prompt you to ask yourself, what if your most deeply held beliefs turn out to be wrong?
The Stinging Fly
Show Them a Good Time
By Nicole Flattery; February (and in the UK, from Bloomsbury, in March)
A series of eight short stories exploring “types” – men and women, their assigned roles and meanings – from a writer Stinging Fly describes as exuberant and strikingly original. In stories “loaded with dark humour and chock-full of style”, a returned emigrant struggles to get her life back on track in the grim town she previously couldn’t wait to leave, two beleaguered students take to the stage in a desperate bid to assert their autonomy, and a television comedian plays a laughter track in the bedroom with his new girlfriend.
The Red Word
By Sarah Henstra; March 21st
This darkly comic work has just won Canada’s big Governor General’s Literary Award for fiction, so Tramp Press feels especially smart for having bought the rights, says its cofounder Sarah Davis-Goff. The Red Word is about rape culture at a US university, but the narrative is playfully structured, with reference to the Iliad, and knowing insights to the Greek system. It’s difficult to talk about this kind of campus novel without referencing Donna Tartt, says Davis-Goff, and it’s smart in a similar way, but Sarah Henstra is going directly for the patriarchy.
By Ian Maleney; March 28th
Not unlike Notes to Self, by Emilie Pine, Minor Monuments is a collection of essays forming a half-memoir, half-odyssey. Ian Maleney – a regular Irish Times contributor – grew up in a rural Irish community, and he is both attempting to record that vanishing way of life and trying to understand his role in the world as an artist as he listens back to recordings of conversations and ambient noise. The book is funny, sad, cerebral and thoroughly engaging, according to Davis-Goff.
Dorothy Macardle: An Unrepentant Propagandist
By Leeann Lane; May
Dorothy Macardle – teacher, playwright, journalist and novelist – is best known as the author of The Irish Republic, from 1937, the first history of the revolutionary period from an anti-Treaty perspective, and the novels The Uninvited and The Unforeseen, from 1942 and 1946, which Tramp Press recently republished. The Irish Republic’s endorsement of Éamon de Valera’s decisions in the 1930s has allowed many of her contemporaries to view her as merely his mouthpiece, yet Macardle – determined, intelligent and independent-minded – was, as Leeann Lane reveals in this study, beholden to no male politician.
Laureate for Irish Fiction series
By Anne Enright; November
As the inaugural laureate, Anne Enright has her writings collected and published here for the first time, as part of UCD Press’s Laureate for Irish Fiction series. The series offers an insight into the Man Booker Prize-winning author’s personal relationship with Irish literature, her passion for nurturing the short-story form at home, and the translation of Irish work. The laureateship, an Arts Council initiative established in partnership with University College Dublin, New York University and The Irish Times, acknowledges fiction writers’ contribution to Irish artistic and cultural life. (The current laureate, whose term runs from 2018 to 2021), is Sebastian Barry. )