In praise of Emma Donoghue, by Joseph O’Connor

Celebrating Irish women writers: ‘She can do everything: be funny, be moving, be unflinching yet sensitive, write beautifully nuanced sentences and utterly gripping stories’

Emma Donoghue: “She’s a wonderful writer of fiction but also an accomplished academic. Her scholarly books Inseparable and We Are Michael Field are so readable and witty and entertaining. I love everything she writes.”  Photograph: Eric Luke

Emma Donoghue: “She’s a wonderful writer of fiction but also an accomplished academic. Her scholarly books Inseparable and We Are Michael Field are so readable and witty and entertaining. I love everything she writes.” Photograph: Eric Luke

I can still remember the thrill of reading Emma Donoghue’s debut, Stir Fry, which was so vivid, skilfully written and confident. I knew she was a writer whose every book I would need to read. I felt the same way the first time I read Claire Keegan and Deirdre Madden. It’s a rare feeling.

I love the intelligence and skill of Donoghue’s work, its quiet insistence on being itself. She can do everything: be funny, be moving, be unflinching yet sensitive, write beautifully nuanced sentences and utterly gripping stories. She can write powerful historical fiction and be absolutely contemporary. And she’s unable to write a line you don’t believe.

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