- 03 Apr 20
Here is another collection of books, this time compiled by Discover NI, if you're in a literary and/or patriotic mood.
1. Milkman by Anna Burns (2018)
Hailing from North Belfast, Anna Burns won the 2018 Man Booker Prize for Fiction with Milkman. It was the first time a Northern Irish writer had been awarded the prize. Milkman is described as "a darkly amusing but very unsettling satire of The Troubles about a young woman whose only escape from the everyday horrors of life is through literature".
2. The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe by C.S Lewis (1950)
C.S Lewis’ The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe is beloved by all generations. Earlier this week, we put it on a list of childhood classics to revisit during self-isolation. It’s the first book in The Chronicles of Narnia series, and inspired by The Mourne Mountains. "I have seen landscapes ... which, under a particular light, make me feel that at any moment a giant might raise his head over the next ridge”, Lewis wrote about the mountains.
3. Big Girl, Small Town by Michelle Gallen (2020)
Tipped as “Milkman meets Derry Girls”, this is a black comedy about a young woman’s life in a small Northern Ireland town in the aftermath of The Troubles. Majella, the narrator of the story, is forced to change her unique opinions about life after tragedy strikes her family.
4. Thirteen by Steve Cavanagh (2018)
Steve Cavanagh was born and grew up in Lisburn, and is a renowned writer of thrillers. Thirteen sees the return of Cavanagh’s protagonist – con-artist-turned-lawyer Eddie Flynn – as sinister events derail a murder trial. It's one in a seris, but the book easily stands on its own.
5. Death of a Naturalist by Seamus Heaney (1966)
Nobel laureate Seamus Heaney is, no doubt, one of the most formidable poets of the 20th century. His debut poetry collection, Death of a Naturalist, was first published in 1966. This collection consists of 34 poems, and is largely concerned with the poet’s childhood. He grew up in rural Bellaghy, Derry. The collection includes some of Heaney's best-known poems, "Digging", "Death of a Naturalist" and "Mid-Term Break".
6. One by One in the Darkness by Deirdre Madden (1996)
Deirdre Madden is one of Northern Ireland’s most talented writers. One by One in the Darkness is one of her best-known books. It's an account of a week in the lives of three sisters shortly before the start of the IRA ceasefire in 1994, running alongside the story of their childhood in Northern Ireland of the 1960s and 1970s.
7. The Mill for Grinding Old People Young by Glenn Patterson (2012)
The Mill for Grinding Old People Young was released in 2012 and selected as the text for Belfast’s first One City, One Book initiative. Beginning in 1897, the novel chronicles protagonist Gilbert Rice revisiting his earlier life and a Belfast full of commerce and confidence. "The failed uprising of 1798 still lingers, while the industrial future of factories, mills, and shipyards looms large".
8. All the Beggars Riding by Lucy Caldwell (2013)
Belfast native Lucy Caldwell is an award-winning playwright and novelist. Discover NI says "All the Beggars Riding is as much about the art of writing as the story itself". Nearing 40, a lonely woman is inspired by her creative writing class to confront her painful childhood memories.
9. Parallax by Sinéad Morrissey (2013)
A native of Portadown, County Armagh, Sinéad Morrissey is one of Ireland’s leading contemporary poets. Parallax is her fifth poetry collection, and it won her the T. S. Eliot Prize. The chair of the judging panel, Ian Duhig, remarked that the collection was "politically, historically and personally ambitious, expressed in beautifully turned language, her book is as many-angled and any-angled as its title suggests".
10. At Swim-Two-Birds by Flann O’Brien (1939)
Writing in both English and Irish, the novelist, playwright and satirist Brian O'Nolan – who wrote under the pseudonym Flann O’Brien – grew up in Strabane, County Tyrone. He was solidified as a major Irish literary figure upon the publication of his first novel, At Swim-Two-Birds, about a man writing a book – about a man writing a book!
11. Divorcing Jack by Colin Bateman (1995)
Of Colin Batemen, Discovering NI says: "Colin Bateman is a novelist, screenwriter and former journalist from Bangor, County Down. Blending mystery, romance and that specific brand of dark Irish humour, Divorcing Jack is Bateman’s debut novel and the first in the Dan Starkey series. Set in Belfast the novel's events follow a turbulent period in the life of anti-hero, journalist Dan Starkey".
12. The Firestarters by Jan Carson (2019)
The Firestarters won the EU Prize for Literature in 2019. Centred on post troubles East Belfast and the burden of parenthood, the story is laced with Magic Realism. It depicts (among other fantastical beings) a girl with wings, and a boy with wheels for feet.
13. Paperboy by Tony McAuley (2011)
Tony is a Belfast Telegraph paperboy on the Shankill Road. The troubles rage round him, but the young boys mind is concentrated on his acne, saving his paper money from ‘ hoods', and of course, girls, especially the lovely Sharon Burgess. It's a funny and poignant memoir.