Irish Novels to look out for in 2023: Part One! #readingirelandmonth23

It’s Contemporary Fiction week on Reading Ireland Month this week and I am kicking off with some novels scheduled for 2023 that I am really looking forward to.

Close to Home by Michael Magee

April, Hamish Hamilton

There is quite a buzz surrounding the debut novel from Belfast’s Michael Magee, who was named as one of the ten best new novelists of 2023 by The Observer earlier this year. Sean Maguire has returned to Belfast from Liverpool with a degree in English and a dream to write a novel, but prospects are thin on the ground and he is eking out a living working in nightclubs, sharing a squalid flat and spending all his spare cash on drink, drugs and nights out. At a house party, he knocks another young man unconscious and the fall-out from this impulsive act threatens to derail his already precarious situation.  Exploring the generation who were supposed to reap the rewards of the Good Friday Agreement, Close to Home marks out Magee as an exciting new voice.

The Island of Longing by Anne Griffin

April, Sceptre

The Island of Longing is the new novel from the bestselling author of When All Is Said and Listening Still. Rosie’s daughter Saoirse has been missing for eight years and she clings stubbornly to the hope that her child is still alive. A return to the island where she was brought up forces Rosie to face up to the dilemma that faces her – accept that her daughter is gone and salvage something from her current relationships, or maintain hope of her return. Griffin has been a Number Ine bestseller in Ireland and won the Newcomer of the Year Award at the An Post Book Awards in 2019 and it sounds as if this novel will cement her reputation as a must-read author.

Soldier, Sailor by Claire Kilroy

May, Faber

Claire Kilroy returns after a decade with her new novel Soldier, Sailor a searing and lyrical account of early motherhood. I was lucky enough to get a review copy and can attest that this novel is painfully recognisable and pulls no punches. It is a visceral exploration of the pressures of childbirth and childcare, and the toll that can take on a marriage and an individual. Kilroy is the author of four previous novels, including Tenderwire and All Names Have Been Changed and she was awarded the Rooney Prize in 2004. Soldier, Sailor marks a real return to form and should be huge.

The Happy Couple by Naoise Dolan

May, Orion

Naoise Dolan follows up her critically acclaimed debut Exciting Times with The Happy Couple, which tells the story of four linked characters who will all attending the same wedding. Luke and Celine are the titular couple planning for their dream wedding the following year. Archie, their best man is trying to make his way in the corporate world while bridesmaid Phoebe has her doubts about Luke’s intentions. Wedding guest Vivian watches them all with interest and by the time the wedding rolls around, life will not be the same for anyone. I enjoyed the wit and verve of Exciting Times and like the sound of this sharp ensemble piece.  

Service by Sarah Gilmartin

May, Pushkin Press

In a timely and hard-hitting follow up to her debut, Dinner Party Sarah Gilmartin turns from family dynamics to the world of high-end restaurants, where famed chef Daniel Costello is facing accusations of sexual assault. The novel is told from the point of view of three characters; Daniel, desperate to save his culinary empire, his wife Julie, questioning her two decades of marriage and support for her husband and Hannah, who is remembering the summer she worked for Daniel and how his initial kindness turned into something darker. Their three different voices reveal a story of power and abuse, victimhood and complicity.

The Bee Sting by Paul Murray

June, Penguin

I am SO excited for The Bee Sting, a new novel from one of my favourite Irish author’s Paul Murray, whose previous books include Skippy Dies and An Evening of Long Goodbyes. His new novel is billed as a “tragicomic tour de force about family, fortune, and the struggle to be a good person when the world is falling apart”. Coming in at a whopping 700 pages, The Bee Sting charts the failing fortunes of the once wealthy Barnes family whose car business is going under and whose members are reacting in dramatic and ridiculous ways. The novel explores how even the most settled of lives can be thrown into disarray by something as small as ice on the pavement, a casual favour, or even a bee sting…

Do any of these take your fancy? Check back later in the week when I’ll be sharing another six books to look forward to later this year.

Ireland Month Irish Literature

Cathy746books View All →

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

14 Comments Leave a comment

  1. Soldier, Sailor would top my list of these books. I just became a grandma and, having adopted my kids, and horrified watching what my daughter is going through emotionally in the weeks after giving birth (I remember, yes I do remember, seeing friends, s-i-l & cousin go through this in the 80s, but wow. Hat’s off ladies!) All of these sound very good.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. i didnt love Exciting Times but im actually really intrigued by the premise of Dolan’s upcoming novel 👀 i love novels that focus on complicated relationships between a small group of characters so i feel like this one may be more to my liking (at least i hope so!)


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