Sunday, June 04, 2023

Ten essential works of Northern Irish literature

Alexander Poots was born in London in 1985. After studying at the University of Manchester and Magdalen College, Oxford, he worked as a bookseller.

The Strangers’ House: Writing Northern Ireland is his first book.

He lives in Belfast.

At Publishers Weekly Poots tagged ten works with the "tact, nuance, and deep historical understanding" essential to capturing the "predicament" (Seamus Heaney's term) that is Northern Ireland. One title on the list:
Milkman by Anna Burns

No one—well, almost no one—has a name in Burns’s glorious black comedy. The narrator is middle sister. There's also first sister, and Somebody McSomebody, and tablets girl. The place is unnamed, too, though it is Belfast, or a kind of Belfast. Middle sister—bookish, wry, blunt—describes her claustrophobic world, a place in which people are ruled by gossip and violence. It’s a compelling premise, but it could have become too abstract in the wrong hands. Burns makes the reader care, but crucially, she also makes the reader laugh. Despite the subject matter, this book is a scream—and a worthy winner of the 2018 Man Booker Prize.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue