The Killer in Me
Olivia Kiernan is an Irish writer, born and raised in County Meath near Kells, who currently resides in the UK. Her crime thrillers starring Dublin detective Frankie Sheehan feels reminiscent of Tana French’s Dublin Murder Squad series. In the chilling second novel, Frankie’s case gets personal—it’s set in her small home suburb, where long ago then-teenager Seán Hennessey was convicted of murdering his parents. After years of claiming innocence, Seán is finally released, only for bodies to start turning up at the same time. With torch-wielding neighbors and reporters breathing down her neck, Frankie hunts for answers in this thrilling, atmospheric read.
Notes to Self
Drama professor Emilie Pine’s searing personal essay collection won the much-deserved Newcomer of the Year Irish Book Award, and readers having been raving since its initial publication in the UK. At turns intimate and universal, Pine exposes the traumatic and joyful parts that make up a life and delivers a sharp-edged treatise against the attempted silencing of women. It will make you rage, it will make you cry, and it will make you recommend it to everyone in your circle.
Sally Rooney was born in the west of Ireland in 1991, and in 2017 she was named the Sunday Times’ Young Writer of the Year at only 26 years old. Her debut novel, Conversations with Friends, got everyone talking, and her sophomore title was a bestseller out of the gate. It follows wealthy weird girl Marianne and working-class football star Connell, who keep their budding high school romance a secret. When they both wind up at Trinity College in Dublin, they try escaping each other but keep coming back, spinning off into separate social circles and spiraling into earnest searches for meaning. Rooney’s observations are wise, sharp, and all her own.
A Ladder to the Sky
While Irish-born writer John Boyne isn’t exactly a new author—he’s published seven novels, including bestseller The Boy in the Striped Pajamas—A Ladder to the Sky is his most recent, and it’s wickedly good. Over the course of several decades, fame-hungry writer Maurice Swift trots around the globe and manipulates stories out of vulnerable people, then passes them off as his own ideas in bestselling novels. Scandalous and unpredictable, with a narcissistic antihero at the helm, Boyne’s latest stirs up murky questions about the ownership of stories and insatiable ambitions.
The Glorious Heresies
Galway resident Lisa McInerney’s debut novel, The Glorious Heresies, is already an award-winner: it nabbed the 2016 Baileys Women’s Prize for Fiction and the Desmond Elliott Prize, was shortlisted for Best Newcomer at the Irish Book Awards, and longlisted for the Dylan Thomas Prize. The novel centers on grandmother Maureen Phelan, who clubs a home intruder on the head with a holy stone and accidentally kills him. The murder ends up connecting four County Cork misfits—Ryan, Tony, Georgie, and Jimmy—all struggling with the hands they’ve been dealt. This darkly comic novel is redemptive and sings with gorgeous language.
The Lesser Bohemians
Eimear McBride spent her childhood in Tubbercurry, Sligo, and Mayo, eventually heading to London to study acting, though after graduating realized she didn’t want to be an actress. However, the experience may have informed parts of her second novel, The Lesser Bohemians, which is about a naïve 18-year-old drama student and her rocky relationship with a 38-year-old actor. Also not to be missed is McBride’s debut novel, A Girl Is a Half-formed Thing, which centers on a young girl and her brother, who suffers from a brain tumor, try to survive the abuse they endure at home. Vanity Fair called it “one of the most groundbreaking pieces of literature to come from Ireland, or anywhere, in recent years.”
Orchid and the Wasp
Irish poet Caoilinn Hughes published her first novel in July 2018 to tons of buzz. The novel follows irresistible protagonist Gael Foss, born to two career-obsessed parents who put themselves and their jobs above Gael and her brother, Guthrie. After the financial crash of 2008 fractures her family, Gael will go to any lengths to protect the ones she loves, even if it means getting as far away from them as possible. Hughes’s prose will stay on your mind long after you finish this novel that moves from Dublin to London to Manhattan and back again.
I Am, I Am, I Am
Maggie O’Farrell was born in Northern Ireland and has gone on to publish seven novels, including, most recently, This Must Be the Place, a love story set in Ireland. However, it’s her memoir, I Am, I Am, I Am that I can’t stop thinking about. Told entirely in near-death experiences from Maggie’s own life—a childhood illness that left her bedridden, a scary encounter with a disturbed stranger, a teenage tragedy—the book pulses with a kind of energy and a heart-quickening fear. O’Farrell makes readers aware that “we are never closer to life than when we brush up against the possibility of death.”
We all know famed Irish authors James Joyce, W. B. Yeats, and Samuel Beckett. And then, of course, there’s the more recent group: Colm Toibin, Emma Donoghue, Frank McCourt, Anne Enright, and Tana French. But we suggest you branch out and pick up a book by new talent out of Ireland. These eight writers are definitely ones to watch. Their works of fiction and nonfiction are, in turns, gripping, moving, and unputdownable.
Featured Image: Elsa Jenna