As I kick off the final week of what has been a rather surreal Reading Ireland Month, I’m looking specifically at Non-Fiction. Today I’m sharing some of the non-fiction titles coming this year from Irish writers. Obviously, as the publishing industry adapts to the changing environment, a lot of the publication dates here may be pushed back – but we’ll still have them to look forward to at some point!
Look! It’s a WOMAN Writer! Irish Women’s Literary Journeys
Edited by Éilís Ní Dhuibhne.
Arlen House, June
A fantastically timely and necessary book, this is a collection of essays by Irish women writers of the 1950s generation who are literary survivors. These are the women writers who fought against prejudice and resistance to the female voice, and who, together with groundbreaking publishers, brought about a dramatic seachange in Irish literature. A wealth of stunning talent is on show in this collection whose contributors include Catherine Dunne, Mary O’Donnell, Lia Mills, Medbh McGuckian, Anne Devlin, Evelyn Conlon, Liz McManus and Celia de Fréine. Now that’s an impressive line-up.
Inventory by Darran Anderson
Farrar, Straus & Giroux, April
In this lyrical memoir, Darran Anderson explores the history of his family through the story of four generations of fathers and sons.
Coming of age during the height of the Troubles in Derry, Darran Andreson felt that the only way to survive was to leave. But Derry was to call him back. Following the mysterious disappearance of his cousin, Anderson returned to the city and to the River Foyle to search for his cousin’s body. The river that had also claimed the lives of his grandparents.
As he continues to search, his father and uncle by his side, Anderson uncovers tales and mythologies in the surroundings, forgotten writings, anecdotes, and accounts, piecing together these lives as he moves down the river. Through a private microcosm, the fate of an entire city (and a larger story about Ireland) is sensitively and cinematically told. Exploring a landscape that changes with the river from nautical to urban to rural, and replete with stories of heartache, revolution, and redemption, Inventory is a gripping and moving affirmation of how we can emerge from tragedy with renewed hope and a deeper awareness of who we are.
Dream Big by Niamh Shaw
Mercer Press, March
With all the discussion around women in science, Niamh Shaw, an Irish performer, science communicator and STEM ambassador is determined to celebrate a life lived through science Dream Big, is a non-fiction account of her journey through science so far, describes her life and work through and personal anecdotes. Her story is one of individuality and the importance of following your own path and your own dreams.
OK, Let’s Do Your Stupid Idea by Patrick Freyne
Patrick Freyne is one of Ireland’s sharpest and funniest critics and journalists. In his first book, a collection of essays, Patrick Freyne charts a lot of the stupid ideas he’s had in his life and what these ideas have taught him about friendship, grief and life. The publisher blurb says that, ‘Life as seen through the eyes of Patrick Freyne is stranger, funnier and a lot more interesting than life as we generally know it. Like David Sedaris or Nora Ephron, he creates an environment all his own – fundamentally comic, sometimes moving, always deeply humane.’ Those are big names to live up to, but Patrick Freyne might just be the man to do it. In the meantime, do yourself a favour and follow him on Twitter!
Handiwork by Sara Baume
Tramp Press, March
In her first work of non-fiction, artist and acclaimed writer Sara Baume charts the daily process of making and writing, exploring what it is to create and to live as an artist. This short book promises Baume’s keen eye for detail and daily beauty and promises to be a must-read for writers and non-writers alike. Tramp Press describes it as ‘Elegantly encompassing images and in itself a significant artefact, handiwork offers observations that are at once gentle and devastating on the nature of art, grief and a life lived well. A glimpse into the process of one Ireland’s best writers, handiwork is Baume’s non-fiction debut, written with a keen eye for nature and beauty as well as the extraordinary versatility Sara Baume’s fans have come to expect.’ Sounds unmissable.
Three Years in Hell By Fintan O’Toole
Head of Zeus, April
Fintan O’Toole has become the preeminent journalist writing about Brexit over the last three years, winning an Orwell Award and national acclaim for his work. He follows up his best-selling Heroic Failure with Three Years in Hell, which promises to be another intelligent and clear-sighted look at the unending saga of Brexit, in light of the recent developments.
Found, Remembered by Lyra McKee
The publication of her first book is a bitter-sweet one, following Lyra McKee’s shocking murder last year. It is a reminder of the awful loss of a great talent, who had so much more to give. Faber & Faber is publishing this anthology of her work to mark the first anniversary of her death and to remember her as one of the most important and formidable journalists of her generation. Faber promises that the book “reveals the sheer scope of McKee’s intellectual and radically humane engagement with the world – and lets her spirit live on in her own words.”
Notes from an Apocalypse by Mark O’Connell
From the author of To Be a Machine, comes a new book, examining societies anxieties about a rapidly changing world. I’m sure when Mark O’Connell wrote Notes From An Apocalypse, he didn’t realise quite how prescient it would be!
From Brexit to climate change, Trump to Cambridge Analytica, the future of the world looks grim. Dublin based writer O’Connell has travelled the globe meeting people who believe we have come to the end of times. From survival bunkers in South Dakota to a billionaire’s retreat in New Zealand, he explores the limits of our apocalyptic imagination with wit and insight.
The True Story of the Making of Ryan’s Daughter, Dingle 1969 by Paul Benedict Rowan
New Island Books, May
When you think of classic Irish films, Ryan’s Daughter immediately springs to mind. The making of the film has become the stuff of legend and sensational stories about this often-troubled production. Fifty years after Ryan’s Daughter was released, Sunday Times journalist Paul Benedict Rowan reveals in fascinating detail why David Lean’s behemoth holds such a unique place in movie history and features exclusive interviews with cast and crew and fascinating on set photographs.
Well, do any of those take your fancy?
I am a 40 something book buying addict trying to reduce the backlog one book at a time!