Too Close to Breathe
Olivia Kiernan is an Irish writer, born and raised in County Meath near Kells, who currently resides in the UK. Her first novel, Too Close to Breathe, is a police thriller that feels reminiscent of Tana French’s Dublin Murder Squad series. Victim Eleanor Costello is found hanging from a rope in her home in a quiet Dublin suburb and Detective Frankie Sheehan would be happy to rule it a suicide…but not everything adds up. There’s a mysterious spot of paint on the victim’s body and her husband is nowhere to be found. As more victims turn up, Frankie must uncover the killer before the killer finds her.
The Glorious Heresies
Galway resident Lisa McInerney’s debut novel, The Glorious Heresies is already an award-winner. It won 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.
Conversations with Friends
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 of age. Her debut novel Conversations with Friends examines the intricacies of female friendship between Frances, an aspiring writer and Bobbi. When the two meet enigmatic photographer Melissa, they are drawn into her—and her husband Nick’s—orbit. At first the flirtation between Frances and Nick seems harmless but it causes damage to her other relationships, especially with Bobbi. Sally Rooney’s writing gets at everything it means to be young, and feeling wildly out of control of the trajectory of your own life.
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 thirty-eight 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.”
The Heart's Invisible Furies
While Irish-born writer John Boyne isn’t exactly a new author—he’s published 7 novels, including bestseller The Boy in the Striped Pajamas—The Heart’s Invisible Furies is his most recent, and it’s heart-stoppingly good. It follows young Cyril Avery, whose eccentric adoptive parents tell him he’s not a real Avery, making him feel like an outsider who doesn’t belong anywhere. This coming-of-age story follows Cyril over the course of his life as he navigates just who he really is and where he fits in.
Orchid and the Wasp
Irish poet Caoilinn Hughes is publishing her first novel Orchid and the Wasp in July of 2018 and it’s already being buzzed about. 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 7 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—makes the book pulse 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.”
Of course, we all know famed Irish writers James Joyce, W. B. Yeats and Samuel Beckett. And then, of course, there’s the more recent group: Colm Toibin, Emma Donohue, Frank McCourt, Anne Enright, Tana French and Colum McCann. But we suggest you branch out and pick up a book by a brand-new talent out of Ireland. These 7 writers are definitely ones to watch. Their works of fiction and nonfiction are, in turns, gripping, moving and unputdownable.
Featured Image: Elsa Jenna