Welcome to Part Two of my round-up of new books coming out of Ireland this year. There are so many that I’m looking forward to that one post just wasn’t enough
Panenka by Ronan Hession
Bluemoose Books, May 2021
Ronan Hession, author of word-of-mouth hit Leonard and Hungry Paul, returns with a new novel Panenka, published again by Bluemoose Books.
Panenka has spent 25 years living with the disastrous mistakes of his past, which have made him an exile in his home town and cost him his dearest relationships.
Now aged 50, Panenka begins to rebuild an improvised family life with his estranged daughter and her seven year old son. But at night, Panenka suffers crippling headaches that he calls his Iron Mask. Faced with losing everything, he meets Esther, a woman who has come to live in the town to escape her own disappointments. Together, they find resonance in each other’s experiences and learn new ways to let love into their broken lives.
White City by Kevin Power
Simon and Schuster, April 2021
From the highly acclaimed author of Bad Day in Blackrock –inspiration for the 2012 award-winning film What Richard Did, directed by Lenny Abrahamson – comes a new novel about another young privileged man whose life is spinning out of control. Ben – the only son of a rich South Dublin banker – is piecing together the shattered remains of his life. Abruptly cut off, at the age of 27, from a life of heedless privilege, Ben flounders through a world of drugs and dead-end jobs, his self-esteem at rock bottom. Then Ben runs into an old school friend who wants to cut him in on a scam: a shady property deal in the Balkans. The deal will make Ben rich and, at one fell swoop, will deliver him from all his troubles. If only things were that easy…
This sounds like a perfect darkly humourous take on life in Ireland in the shadow of the collapse of the Celtic Tiger.
Line by Niall Bourke
Tramp Press, April 2021
Tramp Press have a great track record in picking hits and Line by Niall Bourke sounds like it’s going to be a book that gets noticed.
Willard, his mother and his girlfriend Nyla have spent their entire lives in waiting in the Line where daily survival is dictated by the ultimate imperative: obey the rules, or you will lose your place. But everything changes the day Willard’s mother dies and he finds an incomprehensible book hidden among her few belongings…
With Beckettian sparseness, Line is a work of speculative fiction that pushes the boundaries of high concept writing. It promises to touch on many of the pressing issues of our turbulent world: migration and the refugee crisis, big data and the erosion of democracy, climate change, colonialism, economic exploitation, social conformity and religious fanaticism.
I don’t think we’ll read anything quite like Line this year.
Snowflake by Louise Nealon
Louise Nealon caused a stir last year when the 27-year old secured a six-figure deal for her debut novel off the back of just one short story.
So, here is Snowflake, which tells the story of eighteen-year-old Debbie White who lives on a dairy farm with her mother, Maeve, and her uncle, Billy. Billy sleeps out in a caravan in the garden with a bottle of whiskey and the stars overhead for company. Maeve spends her days recording her dreams, which she believes to be prophecies. This world is Debbie’s normal, but she is about to step into life as a student at Trinity College in Dublin. As she navigates between sophisticated new friends and the family bubble, things begin to unravel and Debbie struggles to cope with the weirdest, most difficult parts of herself, her family and her small life. But the fierce love of the White family is never in doubt, and Debbie discovers that even the oddest of families are places of safety.
This poignant coming-of-age novel could just be the next Normal People!
The Beauty of Impopssible Things by Rachel O’Donoghue
Atlantic Books, May 2021
If fading seaside towns and big house gothic is your thing, then Rachel O’Donoghue’s new book will hit the spot!
Natasha Rothwell leads a sheltered life with her beautiful, bohemian mother in a crumbling house by the sea. From a young age she has been beset by strange dreams that she believes predict the future.
The summer Natasha turns fifteen, strange dancing lights appear in the sky above her small seaside town, lights that she interprets as portents of doom and which lead her to reveal her gift to the small, insular community. As the summer progresses, a teenager goes missing, the lights in the sky spread and a new lodger threatens the delicate equilibrium between mother and daughter. Natasha’s actions over those long hot days will have lasting consequences.
There was a lot of love for O’Donoghue’s debut The Temple House Vanishing and this sounds like a beguiling coming-of-age tale.
Acts of Desperation by Megan Dolan
Penguin, March 2021
Released just this week, Megan Dolan’s debut comes on a wave of hype, with Karl Ove Knausgaard hailing the arrival of ‘a huge literary talent’. Billed as an ‘anti-romance’, Acts of Desperation is the dark and intense account of an obsessive and toxic relationship between a young unnamed narrator and a charismatic writer named Ciaran. After a brief, all-consuming romance he abruptly rejects her, sending her into a tailspin of jealous obsession and longing. If he ever comes back to her, she resolves to hang onto him and his love at all costs, even if it destroys her…
Love was the final consolation, would set ablaze the fields of my life in one go, leaving nothing behind. I thought of it as a force which would clean me and by its presence make me worthy of it. There was no religion in my life after early childhood, and a great faith in love was what I had cultivated instead. Oh, don’t laugh at me for this, for being a woman who says this to you. I hear myself speak.
This is one that I am very much looking forward to.
Let me know in the comments if any of these take your fancy!
I am a 40 something book buying addict trying to reduce the backlog one book at a time!