Bookish (and Not So Bookish) Thoughts!

Bookish (and not so bookish) Thoughts is hosted by Christine at Bookishly Boisterous – go say hi!

It’s been another busy week at 746 Books and as I am clearly not organised enough to do a review, I’m doing one of these posts instead 🙂

  • It’s all about The OA round our house at the moment – have you seen it? Ooh, so exciting! A girl, Praire, is found alive after being missing for seven years. The twist? She was blind when she went missing and now she can see. What has caused this, and why does she need a band of 5 misfits to help her find ‘the others’? The OA is incredibly smart sci-fi and I can’t wait to see how it ends
  • Last week I had the privilege of meeting novelist Deirdre Madden when she came to HomePlace to chat about her work and her life growing up just down the road from HomePlace in Toomebridge. I’m a major fan of Madden’s work and reviewed Molly Fox’s Birthday here and it was such a treat to meet her.
  • I do love it when books and music meet and so far this month I’ve been listening non-stop to Max Richter’s new composition Woolf Works, the music to a new ballet triptych about the life of Virgina Woolf. Woolf Works is currently on at the Royal Opera House in London and the description on the website sounds amazing.

    Virginia Woolf defied the false order of narrative conventions to depict a heightened, startling and poignant reality. Woolf Works re-creates the synaesthetic collision of form and substance in her writings.

    The music is stunning. Do yourself a favour and have a listen!


A scene from Woolf Works



  • I am starting to get geared up for Reading Ireland Month next month and am prepping like mad. I was lucky enough to get sent a review copy of Lisa McInerney’s new book The Blood Miracles. A follow up to The Glorious Heresies, I can attest to the fact that it is just as good as its predecessor and will certainly cement McInerney’s reputation as a literary force to be reckoned with.


  • Finally, and most excitedly, I have managed to get tickets to hear the amazing George Saunders read at the Mountains to the Sea Festival in Dublin next month. He’ll be reading from his new book Lincoln at the Bardo and the hubbie has offered to buy me a copy so that I don’t break my book-buying ban….I’m a bit of a cheat, I know, but come on! It’s George Saunders! I have to get him to sign my book!

George Saunders,

Has anyone else been up to anything bookish, or not so bookish? Now that I’ve finished procrastinating, I should really go and write a proper review. Or watch another episode of The OA….

The Long Gaze Back – A Giveaway!

To celebrate Irish women writers, I am delighted to host a very exciting giveaway on the blog this week.


I will be giving away a hardback copy of The Long Gaze Back, an anthology of short stories by Irish female writers, edited by Sinéad Gleeson along with a copy of Maeve Brennan’s novella The Visitor, from which The Long Gaze Back takes its name.

The Long Gaze Back was published last year to showcase the many women writers in Ireland whose work has been overlooked in the past. The Oxford Book of Irish Short Stories was published in 1989 and included only 7 women writers out of 39 stories. Worse still, the Field Day Anthology of Irish Writing published in 1984 contained no women writers at all.

In 2001, Evelyn Conlon and Hans Christian Oeser edited a collection which aimed to redress the balance. Cutting the Night in Two featured short stories from 34 Irish female writers which made it clear that these writers had always been out there, they just weren’t being heard.

The Long Gaze Back follows on from this, featuring as it does 34 writers and spanning 218 years. The collection includes stories from Maria Edgeworth, Charlotte Riddell and Norah Hoult and includes 22 living writers, all of whom have included stories never before published.

The Long Gaze Back is a substantial harvest, a seriously comprehensive and celebratory volume.                                                                     The Irish Times

Sinéad Gleeson has described the anthology as a triptych, featuring deceased classic writers; well established writers from the last decade like Anne Enright and the new voices currently emerging from Ireland – Belinda McKeon, Mary Costello and Lisa McInerney. The themes covered in the anthology show the breadth and depth of issues facing women today and throughout history – emigration, pregnancy, loss, capitalism, motherhood, ghosts, art and much more.


The Long Gaze Back was the winner of the Best Irish-Published Book of the Year at the Irish Book Awards 2015

There’s nothing girly about these stories; there are no clichés, no Mr. Rights, no wedding bells, no evenings with Chardonnay. Instead, this collection represents the richness of women’s lives, past and present. The joy, the compassion, the anger, the sadness. It’s all there.                                                                                    Sunday Independent

Maeve Brenan’s novella The Visitor was written in the mid-1940s but was only discovered in a university archive and republished in 2006.


It tells the haunting story of Anastasia King, who, at the age of 22, following the deaths of her parents, returns to her grandmother’s house in Ireland where she lived as a child.  However, instead of solace, she finds coldness and intransigence from her grandmother and comes to realise that refuge may not lie in the past after all.

The Visitor is the work of a sure hand…and Brennan’s prose is terse and exquisitely precise throughout…Only in the work of Emily Dickinson can the same ferocious vision – of love, pain, transgression and death – and economy of expression be found.                                 The Guardian



Maeve Brennan


If you would like to win these two fantastic books, simply comment below telling me either your favourite Irish woman writer or just your favourite woman writer and you will be entered into the draw which will take place on Friday.

Good luck!



Irish writers make the Baileys Longlist!


The Baileys Women’s Prize for Fiction 2016 long list was announced this morning and no better day for it that International Women’s Day!

A massive congratulations to Lisa McInerney and Anne Enright who were included for The Glorious Heresies and The Green Road respectively.


I’m currently slap bang in the middle of The Glorious Heresies and will be reviewing it later in the month during my New Voices Week. I had the pleasure of meeting Lisa during the summer at an event promoting The Long Gaze Back anthology where she read her fantastic short story, Berghain from that collection.

lisa mci

Lisa McInerney

If you would like to read a snippet from The Glorious Heresies, you can do so here

Good luck to Lisa and Anne for the next round!

Have any of your read The Green Road or The Glorious Heresies? Were any of your favourites included in the long list? I did have my fingers crossed for Tender by Belinda McKeon which was my favourite book of last year.

Irish Book Awards 2015 – Shortlist Announced!



The Shortlist for the Irish Book Awards was announced today and there are some great books and authors to check out. The Bord Gáis Energy Irish Book Awards brings together the entire literary community – readers, authors, booksellers, publishers and librarians – to recognise and celebrate the very best of Irish literary talent across thirteen categories, including Novel of the Year, Popular Fiction, Non-fiction, Crime, Children’s, Sports, Short Stories and Cookery.

The Best Novel category is a particularly strong one and includes two of my favourite reads of the year – Miss Emily by Nuala O’Connor and Tender by Belinda McKeon. I am secretly hoping that Nuala wins as I’m hosting a Q&A and reading of Miss Emily in the Crescent Arts Centre in Belfast in December and it would be great to chat about a potential win! I have The Little Red Chairs by Edna O’Brien from Net Galley and it is another book I am very much looking forward to. Regular readers to the blo will know m felings for Paul Murray, so all in all, this is an incredibly strong collection of novels.

Eason Book Club Novel of the Year
• Tender by Belinda McKeon (Pan Macmillan / Picador)
• Miss Emily by Nuala O’ Connor (Sandstone Press Ltd)
• The Green Road by Anne Enright (Jonathan Cape)
• The Mark and the Void by Paul Murray (Hamish Hamilton)
• Beatlebone by Kevin Barry (Canongate Books)
• The Little Red Chairs by Edna O’ Brien (Faber & Faber)

novel of year
I’m also delighted to see The Long Gaze Back included in the Best Irish Published Book of the Year. This anthology of short stories by Irish female writers goes someway to balancing out the gender bias of many anthologies and collections of Irish writing. I am half way through The Long Gaze Back at the moment and it is a great read. Best Irish Published Book of the Year
• Ireland’s Wild Atlantic Way by Carsten Krieger (The O’Brien Press)
• The Long Gaze Back: An Anthology of Irish Writers edited by Sinéad Gleeson (New Island Books)
• Windharp edited by Niall Mc Monagle (Penguin Ireland)
• 1916: Portraits and Lives by Lawrence William White and James Quinn (Royal Irish Academy)
• Handbook of the Irish Revival: An Anthology of Cultural and Political Writings 1891 –1922 by Declan Kiberd and P.J.Mathews (Abbey Theatre Press)
• Eileen Gray: Her Work and Her World by Jennifer Goff (Irish Academic Press)



Another fantastic inclusion in the shortlist is Martina Devlin, whose About Sisterland has been shortlisted in the Popular Fiction Book of the Year category. I interviewed Martina on the blog last month and would love to see her win!

Irish Independent Popular Fiction Book of the Year
• About Sisterland by Martina Devlin (Ward River Press)
• The Dress by Kate Kerrigan (Head of Zeus)
• Seedless in Seattle by Ross O’Carroll-Kelly (Penguin Ireland)
• The Marble Collector by Cecelia Ahern (HarperCollins)
• The Way We Were by Sinead Moriarty (Penguin Ireland)
• Another Heartbeat in the House by Kate Beaufoy (Transworld Ireland)


There are some very exciting new voices shortlisted for the Newcomer of the Year award, including Sara Baume for Spill Simmer Falter Wither and Lisa McInerney for The Glorious Heresies, both of which I was bought as a wedding anniversary present (along with The Long Gaze Back and Miss Emily!).


I hope to read them both over the next few months and review them during Reading Ireland Month 2016 (next March – get that date in your diaries!)

Sunday Independent Newcomer of the Year
• Eggshells by Caitriona Lally (Liberties Press)
• Spill Simmer Falter Wither by Sara Baume (Tramp Press)
• The Glorious Heresies by Lisa McInerney (John Murray)
• Hopscotch: A Memoir by Hilary Fannin (Doubleday Ireland)
• Dinosaurs On Other Planets by Danielle Mc Laughlin (Stinging Fly Press)
• Weightless by Sarah Bannan (Bloomsbury Circus)


The short story section is also strong and includes What Time Is It, Where You Are Now? from Colum McCann’s stunning Thirteen Ways of Looking. It wouldn’t be my favourite story from that collection, but it is incredibly clever and well written. Short Story of the Year
• A Slanting of the Sun by Donal Ryan (A Slanting of the Sun) (Doubleday)
• BOY, 19 by John Boyne (Beneath the Earth, (Doubleday)
• The Journey to Galway by Colm Toibin (Faber/The Irish Times)
• December Swimmers by Paul Lenehan (The Moth)
• monologue for cabman by Kevin Barry (The Stinging Fly Press)
• What Time Is It Now, Where Are You? By Colum McCann (Thirteen Ways of Looking, Bloomsbury)

13 ways
What’s most fantastic about the Irish Book Awards is that the voting is now open to the public until 19 November 2015. You can vote in as many categories as you like on the website here and the winners will be announced at a ceremony in Dublin on 25 November. You can get more information and the full list of shortlisted books on the Irish Book Awards website.

Have you read any of the shortlisted books? Who would you cast your vote for?