Poet Doireann Ní Ghríofa’s original combination of essay and autofiction A Ghost in the Throat has been announced as the An Post Irish Book of the Year 2020. Here’s what she’s reading …
Doireann Ní Ghríofa’s A Ghost in the Throat finds the 18th-century poet Eibhlín Dubh Ní Chonaill haunting the life of a contemporary young mother, prompting her to turn detective.
“In our home, of our many, messy book stacks, there is one I arrange with particular care. On my bedside table I assemble the books I have chosen to re-read, and for a few precious moments before I sleep, I fall into their pages once more. Some have recently appeared here for the first time, while others have been placed here many times and will return many more, but they all have one thing in common: these are beloved books, and they are also haunted.
“I often find myself drawn to books that feel haunted, like Montenotte by artist Dorothy Cross (Occasional Press). The charm of this book lies in its juxtaposition of old snapshots placed alongside a selection of her art. The works are arranged in such a way they invite the reader to deduce deeper connections and lines of narrative for themselves: between art and the quotidian, between past and present. It’s a rare jewel: a book which gleams in the absence of a text.
“Meeting the Other Crowd by Eddie Lenihan (Gill & Macmillan) is twice haunted: first by the titular “others” who dwell in ringforts and in shadowed peripheries all around us, but also by the voices of those who remembered and recounted these inherited stories so beautifully. That Mr Lenihan visited these people, gathering, editing and arranging these tellings with care, so that readers might share in an appreciation of these tales, is a gift. Chilling, bright, and often droll, this book allows a glimpse into a parallel world that is both distant and eerily close to our own. A classic.
“I tend to revisit poems, sometimes rereading one so much I end up knowing lines by heart. At the moment I’m absorbed in Postcolonial Love Poem by Natalie Diaz (Faber), poems of desire, of erasure, of division and rupture, each written with Diaz’s characteristic brilliance; a deeply important book for the times we find ourselves living through. “Maps are ghosts”, writes Diaz. So they are.”
A Ghost in the Throat, (Tramp Press, €16) is out now.
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