Contemporary Irish Fiction: Themes, Tropes, Theories

Book cover for Contemporary Irish Fiction

Recent years have witnessed an extraordinary growth in the richness and diversity of Irish fiction, with the publication of highly original and consistently challenging work by both new and established writers. Contemporary Irish Fiction provides an invaluable introduction to this exciting but largely uncharted area of literary criticism by bringing together 12 accessible, authoritative and stimulating essays by leading critics from Ireland, Britain and North America. Using a variety of critical methods and theoretical approaches, the contributors examine changing fictional narratives of Ireland, and offer informed analyses of the textual representation of such concepts as exile, political violence, gender and sexuality, motherhood amd urban life. The volume contains detailed assessments of such distinctive and distinguished writers as Brian Moore, John McGahern, Edna O’Brien, John Banville, Bernard Mac Laverty, Patrick McCabe, Colm Tóibín, Glenn Patterson, Deirdre Madden and Emma Donoghue


‘This timely volume addresses the substantial and growing body of work by contemporary Irish novelists, and helps us to understand the forces and energies that drive their achievement and success. These stimulating essays offer fresh insights into the preoccupations of some of Ireland’s most gifted writers, as they try to tell the story of the inner life of a society that is changing at a tremendous pace, while also remaining strange, alluring and deadly.’ – Professor Robert Welch, University of Ulster, editor of The Oxford Companion to Irish Literature

‘…the collection offers tough-minded and informative individual analyses, which should investigate further worthwhile theoretical work on Irish fiction.’ – Patricia Coughlan, The Irish Times

‘The collection as a whole is a significant instalment in the criticism of recent Irish fiction. Structurally the essays are well-organised, with introductions, conclusions and component parts clearly signposted. Both browser and specialist are well catered for, and anyone interested in the individual novelists and novels would do well to begin their research here’. – John Kenny, Times Literary Supplement

‘This book is a remarkably alert and up-to-date series of critiques of recent Irish fiction…It projects an Ireland, both North and South, which is changing rapidly in mores and assumptions…What is most surprising and heartening is how the communities in these novels are, on the whole, portrayed as having the capacity for rapid change. The criticisms break new ground by not simply confining themselves to the evils of the traditional in the face of a brave new world, but showing how the new world and the old manage to negotiate a shared territory…[The book] applies to fiction techniques which up to now have commonly been confined to poetry. Its appearance is a watershed in the criticism of the busy world of the modern Irish novel.’ – Bernard O’ Donoghue, Fellow in English, Wadham College, Oxford

‘…a coherent, well-balanced and unpresuming collection of eleven essays, preceded by a substantial editorial introduction….First and foremost, this is an interesting, up-to-date, intelligent discussion of insidious and ubiquitous flaws of current criticism in Irish literary studies….All the essays are worthy of mention not so much because of their varying degrees of excellence, but rather because of the scope and range of topics and tropes they manage to cover’ Roberta Gefter Wondrich, Irish Studies Review