10 Must-Read Books
Amongst Women (1990), John McGahern
Considered for the Booker Prize, Amongst Women is a novel about a farm family domineered by a veteran of the IRA. The character of Michael Moran is feared, but he is cared for by his daughters and wife, who attempt to re-create his happiest days.
Paddy Clarke Ha Ha Ha (1993), Roddy Doyle
Following the life of a ten-year-old boy, this lovely piece of fiction won the Booker Prize in 1993. Noted for its scattered plot line, the book is still cohesive in that the events are described as a young boy might outline them.
The Last September (1929), Elizabeth Bowen
This novel depicts life at a country mansion in County Cork. The story focuses on the privileged English who enjoy their time denying that their world will soon collapse. A film based on the book was released in 1999.
Angela's Ashes (1996), Frank McCourt
This memoir won a Pulitzer Prize and focuses on the story of McCourt's life as his family leaves New York for Limerick, Ireland. Following the death of his siblings, Frank's father cannot hold a job, partially due to his alcoholism, and the family must live in a decrepit house in dire straits.
Troubles (1970), J. G. Farrell
An English novelist, J. G. Farrell writes of Major Brendan Archer, who seeks the hand of the daughter of the owner of the Majestic Hotel in County Wexford. The tale focuses on the unionist's family's slow breakdown, corresponding to the state of the hotel around them.
Dubliners (1914), James Joyce
A collection of short stories by the famed Joyce, Dubliners depicts the lives of those living in Dublin in the early part of the century. Narrators of the tales include children, adolescents, and adults. Interestingly, some of the characters later appear in the gargantuan masterpiece Ulysses.
Star of the Sea (2004), Joseph O'Connor
Published and recognized with a plethora of awards, O'Connor's novel is part historical and part mystery. Focusing on several main characters, the plot deals with a murder and the hardships that occurred on an Irish famine ship on its way to New York.
The Third Policeman (1967), Flann O'Brien
This book by writer Brian O'Nolan, written under the pseudonym of Flann O'Brien, was published posthumously. A nameless narrator who becomes obsessed with the works of De Selby, a regarded, yet fictitious, philosopher, tells the story. The work progresses to reveal the narrator, Divney, and Mathers and the breakdown of their relationship due to a murderous scenario and unfolding of events.
Thy Tears Might Cease (1963), Michael Farrell
The author's only masterpiece, a life-long work, Thy Tears Might Cease is thought to be an autobiographical piece published under the safety net of fiction. The tale depicts the life and times of the protagonist, who grows up during Ireland's roughest political years throughout the early twentieth century.
All Summer (2003), Claire Kilroy
A revealing thriller involving character Anna Hunt, the story begins with the main character waking up in a barn, holding a suitcase of cash, and having no memory of her life, but only events leading up to the robbery of a prized piece of art.