In my previous articles, I emphasised how artistic activities like music, creative writing, and even fine art can be beneficial to people to handle personal issues, especially during hard times. Now, I intend to give you another suggestion: if you have had enough of all the stress that has been around in your life for nearly a year, but you are not in a mood to do productive activities, then there can be other ways to find solace. Reading can be edifying and amusing at the same time. I have gathered information about five books that were written by contemporary Irish authors, and perhaps it could serve you as a recommendation to start your adventure in the realm of literature that might aid you to cope with lockdown.
The Wonder (2016) by Emma Donoghue
The story is set in 1859 in the Irish midlands, and it tells us about an English nurse, Lib Wright, who is required to observe a girl in a small and isolated village, who is said to have survived without food for months, thus she is considered a medical miracle. Its narrative is focused on the two major characters and on the transformation of their connection. Affection is the focal point, and this story also shows that ill-will and evil never prevails permanently. The Dublin-born, well-known author, Emma Donoghue, published this psychological thriller in 2016, and it became critically acclaimed. If you like your emotions to be tested, and find this literary genre interesting, then The Wonder is a must.
Brooklyn (2009) by Colm Toibin
Toibin’s novel is set in the 1950s and follows the life line of a young Irish lass, Eilis Lacey, who is desperately looking for employment in Ireland without luck. Her sister sets up a meeting with a catholic priest who tells Eilie about the opportunities that are to be found in New York City. She decides to move to Brooklyn and successfully gets a job offer. The integration does not go perfectly for Lacey but eventually she gets used to the difficulties and solves all the occurring issues with maturity. Meanwhile, she falls in love with someone thus her private life also seems to be working out. Unfortunately, later on family issues occur that force Lacey to return to Ireland, things get complicated between her and a local man who is fond of her and when all these little secrets begin to unfold and rumours spread across the little town, Lacey has not left any choice but to leave for New York City. Brooklyn is a beautifully written romantic novel in which many topics come up besides romance such as emigration and the hardship of integration in a foreign society. The versatility of Toibin’s story makes it even more a relevant contemporary literary work.
That They May Face The Rising Sun (2002) by John McGahern
This fiction novel tells us about the inhabitants of an Irish village throughout a year, in a rural area of Ireland. Interesting point is that two different concepts appear in the setting of this story. Firstly, there is this slow-paced countryside life shown to the reader but this rural setting meets with modernity in an unusual way, and this kind of duality follows the narrative all along. According to the several colourful characters, many different and amusingly interesting personalities are demonstrated who bring humour but also seriousness with sympathy to the picture.
Solar Bones (2016) by Mike McCormack
It is another fiction novel that won the Goldsmiths Prize and the 2018 International Dublin Literary Award. Its leading character is Marcus Conway, a deceased middle-aged engineer who returns on All Souls’ Day and reflects on his past while sitting at his kitchen table. The occurring subjects in the narrative are imbalance, the connection of order and chaos, loss, masculinity, manhood, the idea of being a husband, father, and son.
The Sea (2005) by John Banville
It is Banville’s thirteenth novel that was given to the 2005 Booker Prize. Its leading character is a retired art historian, Max Morden who writes a journal and reflects on his life and his relationships. In terms of genre, drama and romance dominate the narrative primarily with sentimental but serious thoughts. It is like a memoir of W.B.Yeats of modern times, being told by an intellectual and sophisticated tone.