Recommended Reading: Irish Books

It's St. Patrick's Day. For some that might mean drinking some Guinness or listening to Irish folk music, but for enthusiastic readers it's an occasion to add some books by Irish writers to their reading list. I am steering clear of the usual suspects (e.g., Ulysses) to point out some books that might be under the radar of many readers. banvilleJohn Banville is a prolific writer of both beautiful, challenging literary fiction and of mysteries (the latter under the name Benjamin Black). He's also consider a potential Nobel laureate by his admirers. You can't go wrong trying any of his books. My personal recommendation is his Revolutions Trilogy: the first two volumes, Dr. Copernicus and Kepler, are historical novels about the aforenamed Renaissance scientists. The third volume, The Newton Letter, is the haunting story of a twentieth century historian who moves to the country to finish a biography of Newton and becomes drawn into the life of the mysterious family from whom he's renting his cottage. Shade, a novel by acclaimed filmmaker Neil Jordan, is about four shade childhood friends of different social classes who, as they grow up, approach the threshold of a world designed to separate them. The story of their connected yet estranged lives is one of war, heartbreak, insanity and murder. It's a finely wrought tale of stunning bleakness.   feliciaWilliam Trevor is another Irish writer who's considered a perennial contender for the Nobel Prize. He is one of the best contemporary short story writers and three of his novels have won the Whitbread Prize.  One of those novels, Felicia's Journey, is the story of a naive, friendless Irish girl wandering the English Midlands, looking for the man who got her pregnant and then disappeared. Soon the hapless Felicia attracts the interest of two very different people. Miss Calligary walks the streets with her Bible looking for souls to save. Mr. Hilditch is a  middle-aged caterer who has never said or thought anything original in his life. As these two seemingly harmless people square off for custody (as it were) of Felicia we begin to realize that something is very, very wrong.... Happy reading.

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