Colm Tóibín, New Fiction Laureate for Ireland shares his current reading list with Books Editor Orna Mulcahy …
Intimate City: Dublin Essays by Peter Sirr has the same precise and distilled quality of Sirr’s poetry, but it also shows him in a more relaxed mode, as a walker, a flâneur, and then as someone fascinated by the past, by traces and clues, by what has disappeared in Dublin and what remains.
Aftermath: Life in the Fallout of the Third Reich 1945-1955 by Harald Jähner is a closely researched study of what actually happened to ordinary life in Germany after the war. Jähler is fascinated by how quickly life returned to Germany, and in how many surprising and ironic ways.
In Colin Barrett’s Homesickness, his second collection of stories, every sound and rhythm in his prose, every image and metaphor, has been worked on until he manages a kind of gruff lyricism. He makes smalltown resentment dramatic without losing the possibility of an uneasy redemption.
Yan Lianke, the great Chinese writer, has one novella called Marrow that is a masterpiece. Included in the volume The Years, Months, Days, it reads like cross between a biting and brilliant folktale and a true story that is so outlandish and shocking and fantastic that it can barely be told.
Claire Keegan’s Small Things Like These is about the same length as Marrow. It, too, is a masterpiece, one that is coloured by lyricism and sharp realism and an ability to create scenes and images that come straight out of life, are like something electrifying that has really happened.
Colm Tóibín is the new Laureate for Irish Fiction and, in partnership with Libraries Ireland, presents The Art of Reading, a monthly online event for book clubs around the country on the last Thursday of every month. See www.artscouncil.ie/laureate/.
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