The Glorious Heresies by Lisa McInerney is the new Irish Times Book Club choice for March.
One messy murder affects the lives of five misfits who exist on the fringes of Ireland’s post-crash society. Ryan is a 15-year-old drug dealer desperate not to turn out like his alcoholic father Tony, whose obsession with his unhinged next-door neighbour threatens to ruin him and his family.
Georgie is a prostitute whose willingness to feign a religious conversion has dangerous repercussions, while Maureen, the accidental murderer, has returned to Cork after 40 years in exile to discover that Jimmy, the son she was forced to give up years before, has grown into the most fearsome gangster in the city. In seeking atonement for the murder and a multitude of other perceived sins, Maureen threatens to destroy everything her son has worked so hard for, while her actions risk bringing the intertwined lives of the Irish underworld into the spotlight . . .
Biting, moving and darkly funny, The Glorious Heresies explores salvation, shame and the legacy of Ireland’s twentieth-century attitudes to sex and family.
The Galway author’s debut novel had fellow writers tripping over themselves to praise it. Kevin Barry called it “totally and unmistakably the real deal”; Donal Ryan found it “a real stunner; a wild ride of a read”; while Colin Barrett praised “a gripping and often riotously funny tale”.
Joseph O’Connor was full of praise for it in his Irish Times review. “This is a big, brassy, sexy beast of a book, set in a place very far from the conveniently out-of-focus watercolour Ireland that readers and writers of my own age grew up with, a land rich in sheep and epiphanies. McInerney is a truth-speaker and a powerful storyteller who writes with exactly the sort of furious energy this novel needs. Without her intoxicating love of language the book might be exhausting – at 370 pages it’s substantial – but she has the linguistic wizardry (and the naughtiness) to keep you hooked.
“This would be a useful novel to look through before the office Christmas party, because when your drunken colleague bothers you, you’ll have an arsenal of ripostes. But this strong, confident debut is also something very much more: an accomplished, seriously enjoyable and high-octane morality tale, full of empathy, feeling and soul.”
McInerney is from Galway and was the author of an award-winning blog, Arse End of Ireland’. The Irish Times has called her “arguably the most talented writer at work in Ireland today”. Her mother remains unimpressed.
Over the next few weeks, we will be exploring the novel with Lisa, who will contribute a number of articles shedding light on different aspects of her work. We will also publish an extract, interviews, reviews and appreciations, culminating in a podcast interview with the author to be recorded at the Irish Writers Centre in Dublin and then published here.
The Glorious Heresis is published in paperback by John Murray, at £8.99. As always, Hodges Figgis is offering a 10 per cent discount to Irish Times Book Club readers.