In honor of the holiday, we share with you a selection of our favorite Irish books, whether by authorship or subject matter. First up, the children’s section:
Donald Lemke’s graphic novel adaptation of Irishman Jonathan Swift’s novel is a compelling read. Cynthia Martin’s illustrations are classic comic book. Malcolm remarks, “I liked it because I like giants and I like corn on the cob even though I don’t eat it. The most exciting part was when the giant that was naked was grabbing the ship guys.”
For our younger readers, Malcolm and Simon both recommend Finn MacCoul and His Fearless Wife by Robert Byrd. Malcolm noted the giants theme here again, and also the presence of a compelling “bad guy,” though one’s definition of the bad guy here–Cuchulain versus Finn MacCoul–depends largely on whether one’s sympathies lie with the Irish or with the Scots.
And for the grown-ups in the crowd, two recommendations. The first is a novel I happened upon by chance while perusing the novel shelves out at UMass-Amherst. John McGahern’s By the Lake is deliberate, quiet, and entirely character and landscape focused. Its original title (changed for publication in the U.S.) was the far more compelling That They May Face the Rising Sun. McGahern’s final novel before his death in 2006, this book struck me as a truly lovely elegy for the country he was soon to leave behind.
And finally, it’s early days yet, but I am a few stories into The Collected Stories of William Trevor, and they are marvelous. Just what I love about Irish literature, the perfect blend of darkness and hilarity. Makes me feel at home.