■ Jenny Farrell (editor), Land of the Ever Young: An Anthology of Writing for Children by Working People from Contemporary Ireland (Culture Matters, 2021; €12) If the cultural mainstream is an expression of the ruling ideas in a society, and therefore the ideas of the ruling class, then children’s literature […]
■ Douglas Stuart, Shuggie Bain (New York: Grove Press, 2020) Douglas Stuart won the 2020 Booker Prize for his debut novel, Shuggie Bain, set in his home town, Glasgow, in the 1980s. Like many working-class writers, Stuart found himself doubting the value of his story. “I used to ask myself, […]
George Bernard Shaw wrote: “Keats achieved the very curious feat of writing a poem of which it may be said that if Karl Marx can be imagined writing a poem instead of a treatise on Capital, he would have written Isabella.” The 200th anniversary of Keats’s death this month is an opportunity to celebrate this revolutionary romantic.
■ Francis Devine and Patrick Smylie (editors), Left Lives in Twentieth-Century Ireland, vol. 3: Communist Lives, Dublin: Umiskin Press, 2020. The Communist Party of Ireland will celebrate a hundred years of Irish communism in 2021. This book is a welcome contribution to the centenary of the party. After the counter-revolutions […]
■ Liam O’Flaherty, The Martyr, Nuascéalta, 2020 With this sensational republication of The Martyr, Nuascéalta completes its epic task of restoring the remaining three major O’Flaherty novels banned by the Irish state. The other two novels reprinted were the first book to be banned under the Censorship of Publications Act […]
■ Erich Maria Remarque, All Quiet on the Western Front (1928) The First World War was described as “the war that will end war,” so great was the horror of this new, diabolical stage of industrial annihilation. We know today that, without seriously addressing the causes of war, or the […]
■ Ethel Voynich, The Gadfly(1897) Liam Mellows read this novel while awaiting his execution, along with the other condemned men imprisoned by the Irish Free State during the Civil War (1922–23) for opposing the Anglo-Irish Treaty, which gave Ireland dominion status within the British Empire, rather than establishing an independent […]
■Tomás Mac Síomóin, The Gael Becomes Irish: An Unfinished Odyssey (Nuascéalta, 2020) It is difficult to imagine a deeper enslavement of a subject people than to deprive them of their language. Such a condition has a deep psychological effect, which causes the abnormal to seem normal. There is a pretence […]
Max Blumenthal, The Management of Savagery: How America’s National Security State Fueled the Rise of al Qaeda, ISIS, and Donald Trump(London and New York: Verso, 2019).
THIS IS A valuable book, as it charts how the United States, since the late 1970s up until today, has deliberately funded and supported Islamist jihadists to obtain foreign-policy goals.
Eoin Ó Broin, Home: Why Public Housing Is the Answer (Dublin: Merrion Press, 2020). Much like its author, Sinn Féin’s spokesperson on housing, Home is a very nice and pleasant book. However, given the context of an ever-increasing homelessness crisis, it falls short of providing a truly transformative solution to […]
■ Mick O’Reilly, From Lucifer to Lazarus: A Life on the Left (Dublin: Lilliput Press, 2019) Mick O’Reilly’s recently launched book is a must-read for all young activists, as it records how many of the gains achieved and then taken for granted were won through hard struggle and tough battles, […]
Living in an Armed Patriarchy: Public Protest, Domestic AcquiescenceLynda Walker This booklet takes its reader back in time to the years from the late 1960s to the early 1980s, years that shook the North of Ireland profoundly in many ways. It is an example of the kind of writing about […]