Irish Non-Fiction Books to look out for in 2019! #readingirelandmonth19

As it is Non-Fiction week this week, I thought I would have a look at some recently published and forthcoming non-fiction books by Irish writers that I am particularly looking forward to.

Minor Monuments by Ian Maleney

(Tramp Press, March)


Journalist and critic Ian Maleney’s memoir of family and place in the midlands of Ireland has earned him comparisons to Tara Westover and John Berger so there is much to anticipate in this new book published by Tramp Press.

Over on their website it says:

Set around a small family farm on the edge of a bog, a few miles from the river Shannon, Minor Monuments is a collection of essays unfolding from the landscape of the Irish midlands. Taking in the physical and philosophical power of sound and music, and the effects of Alzheimer’s disease on a family, Ian Maleney questions the nature of home, memory, and the complex nature of belonging.

This sounds like an understated beauty of a book.


Tunnel Vision by Kevin Breathnach

(Faber & Faber, March)


Proving that the essay is alive and well and the perfect form to make your debut with, Kevin Breathnach bursts on to the scene with Tunnel Vision, a mix of memoir and criticism. A critic of mainly visual culture, Breathnach juxtaposes essays on subjects like the male gaze; the work of Berenice Abbot, visits to European cities and Breathnach’s own personal relationships. I have a feeling that this one could go either way, but whatever way it goes, it should be interesting.


Constellations by Sinéad Gleeson

(Picador, April)


I have come to think of all the metal in my body as artificial stars, glistening beneath the skin, a constellation of old and new metal. A map, a tracing of connections and a guide to looking at things from different angles.”

Picador will publish the much-anticipated collection of essays from Sinéad Gleeson in April and the early buzz is building – with good reason. I received a proof copy from Picador and adored this intelligent, emotional and relatable book. When I wasn’t crying, I was gasping in recognition. Sinéad Gleeson has a way of getting right to the heart of her subject and presenting it through beautifully articulated prose, in the manner of writers like Rebecca Solnit and Maggie Nelson. Gleeson has created a stunning collection of essays on the body, and in particular on women’s bodies that is timely and vital. Take my word for it; this book is going to be huge.


Essays on John McGahern, edited by Derek Hand & Eamon Maher

(Cork University Press, April)


John McGahern died in 2006 and has long been revered as one of the greatest writers Ireland has ever produced. This collection of essays mixes literary criticism from the foremost McGahern academics including Declan Kiberd, Catriona Clutterbuck and Máire Doyle alongside essays from writers and broadcasters such as Melvyn Bragg, Paula Meehan and Frank McGuinness.

Having contributors from such differing backgrounds suggests that this will be a timely and thorough examination of McGahern’s life and work.


Elsewhere: One Woman, One Rucksack, One Lifetime of Travel by Rosita Boland

(Doubleday Ireland, May)


Rosita Boland is a senior features writer at the Irish Times. She was a 2009 Nieman Fellow at the Nieman Foundation for Journalism at Harvard University. She won ‘Journalist of the Year’ at the 2018 Newsbrands Ireland journalism awards.

Starting with a life-changing solo trip to Australia as a young graduate, Rosita Boland charts her love of travel through essays on nine different journeys she has made at nine very different parts of her life. From death-defying bus journeys through Pakistan to witnessing the majestic icescapes of Antarctica to putting herself back together in Bali, Rosita experiences moments of profound joy and endures deep personal loss on these trips.

The blurb on Penguin’s website says

In a series of jaw-dropping, illuminating and sometimes heart-breaking essays, Elsewhere is a book that celebrates the life well-travelled in all its messy and wondrous glory

Elsewhere sounds like an illuminating and insightful book even if you are (like me) not a massive fan of travel writing.


 Don’t Touch My Hair by Emma Dabiri

(Allen Lane, May)


Straightened. Stigmatised. ‘Tamed’. Celebrated. Erased. Managed. Appropriated. Forever misunderstood. Black hair is never ‘just hair’.

This book is about why black hair matters and how it can be viewed as a blueprint for decolonisation. Emma Dabiri takes us from pre-colonial Africa, through the Harlem Renaissance, Black Power and on to today’s Natural Hair Movement, the Cultural Appropriation Wars and beyond.

Emma Dabiri is the daughter of an Irish mother and a Nigerian father. Although born in the USA and initially brought up in Atlanta, Georgia, Emma was just five years old when her family moved back to Dublin.

Don’t Touch My Hair proves that far from being only hair, black hairstyling culture can be understood as an allegory for black oppression and, ultimately, liberation.


The Book of Kells by Victoria Whitworth

(Head of Zeus, June)


The Book of Kells is synonymous with Ireland. I was taken to see it by my parents at the age of nine and no tourist tripis complete without a look at those beautifully decorated pages.

Victoria Whitworth’s new book aims to look at it outside the context of a tourist’s to-do list and explores the mysteries behind this most famous of books. It is distinct from all copies of the gospels from the early Middle Ages, not only in the quality and amount of its decoration but also in the peculiarities of the ordering of its contents, the oddness of its apparatus, the appearance of the script, the interplay of text and ornament, and the erratic forms of its Latin. Scholars cannot agree on the number of scribes and artists involved; or establish the purpose of the Book. Victoria Whitworth awakens the mystique of this world-famous manuscript, presenting it in fresh clothing as an artefact whose puzzles and conundrums are a big part of its allure.


Lots here to look forward to, does anything take your fancy?


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Cathy746books View All →

I am a 40 something book buying addict trying to reduce the backlog one book at a time!

19 Comments Leave a comment

  1. Constellations sounds like it’s going to be incredible! I’m also interested in the Emma Dabiri, thanks for mentioning that one, I’ve been wanting to make an effort to read more Irish writers of color.


  2. These all sound wonderful! Especially interested in Constellations, as I love work that brings together life writing, criticism, and social analysis.


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