The Orgasm Gap: ‘We have this frustrating myth that sex is easy and innate’

Aoife Drury

Single parenting in a pandemic: ‘I cry alone in the car so the kids don’t...

Lia Hynes

Author Ruth Gilligan: ‘I have slowly colonised our flat’s small second bedroom into my writing...

Sophie Grenham

About 400,000 women in Ireland have this condition and don’t know

IMAGE

The Cabinet Sub-Committee on Covid-19 currently has no women sitting on it. Why?

Lynn Enright

GALLERY: Beautiful gowns from The Golden Globes through the years

Jennifer McShane

Practical and stylish: 12 baskets we absolutely love for every budget

Megan Burns

Tiger King season 2 is coming – and Carole Baskin has some thoughts

Jennifer McShane

Get out of your head: What to do when you mistrust your gut instinct

Niamh Ennis

Image / Living / Culture

The 3 Irish novels you need to read from the Women’s Prize for Fiction longlist


by Jennifer McShane
09th Sep 2020

 Maggie O’Farrell was the triumphant winner of  the 2020 Women’s Prize for Fiction, but two other Irish reads also made the original longlist and deserve to be read


Six US and five British writers, one from India and one from Singapore, complete the 16-strong longlist, but here are the three Irish reads – one of which was the overall winner – that deserve your attention.

Girl by Edna O’Brien (Faber & Faber, approx €14.99, out now)

For Edna O’Brien’s Girl, the author embarked on what she described as exhausting and sometimes fearsome journeys to Nigeria in order to adequately and truthfully portray the harrowing ordeal of young women abducted and subjected to the sadistic savagery of Boko Haram. To the jihadists who control this reign of terror, they are victims, but Maryam and the other women only fight. To hold onto themselves, to find a way home.

Taken from school when she was only a girl, her capture marks the end of any childhood innocence. This story is haunting and unflinching: one of abduction, rape and imprisonment recounted with raw detail by our Nigerian narrator. Maryam’s matter-of-factness in describing such brutal acts is heartbreaking, using her carefully hidden diary as a tool for survival; to write as a will to keep going, to never let them win. O’Brien enters new territory with this story, which is based loosely on the schoolgirl abductions of the Nigerian town of Chibok in April 2014, and the result is immensely powerful. Even in darkness, it is tinged with hope. A must-read.

Actress by Anne Enright (Jonathan Cape, approx €11.99, out now)

Norah, a middle-aged author, relays the life story of her mother Katherine O’Dell, a star of stage and screen. However, inside the glamorous world of celebrity, Katherine spends time in an asylum following a psychotic break. The story tells of early stardom in Hollywood, of highs and lows on the stages of Dublin and London’s West End. Beautiful Katherine’s life is a grand performance, with young Norah watching from the wings. Once an adult, Norah slowly uncovers secrets that would shatter the bond between mother and daughter – but she has a few of her own too. A tender, lyrical seventh novel from Enright, I couldn’t put this one down.

Hamnet by Maggie O’Farrell (Tinder Press, approx €16.99, out now)

And our winner. Maggie O’Farrell’s first historical novel is based on the short life of 11-year-old Hamnet, the son of William Shakespeare and his wife Agnes, who we know as Anne Hathaway. Set in Tudor England, Hamlet’s name is believed by many to have been borrowed for his most famous play Hamlet. Here, O’Farrell creates an intimate, vivid portrayal of “what might have happened” regarding the death of their child and gives a fresh take on Shakespeare’s little-known family life. When I set out to write the book, I wanted to give this boy, overlooked by history, a voice and a presence,” O’Farrell told the Irish Times.

 

View this post on Instagram

 

A post shared by Women’s Prize for Fiction (@womensprize) on


Atmospheric and engaging, the judges called O’Farrell’s work an “exceptional winner.”

“Hamnet, while set long ago, like all truly great novels expresses something profound about the human experience that seems both extraordinarily current and at the same time, enduring,” they said.

Main photograph: @JonathanCape


Related#IMAGEReads: ‘For rape culture to shift we MUST speak out as victims’

Related‘It’s not about violence or death, I want people to finish feeling hopeful’

Related‘I originally thought the book was too dark to put into the world’

Also Read

PROPERTY
This Victorian terraced house for sale in Rathmines for €1.2 million

The interiors are very cosy and snug, a place you...

By Lauren Heskin

sore eyes UTI period
EDITORIAL
Health Check: What are prostaglandins and how do they affect my period symptoms?

If you find yourself suffering with symptoms like cramping, sore...

By Erin Lindsay

CULTURE
15 brilliant Irish films worth adding to your must-see lists

After the woefulness that was the Wild Mountain Thyme saga,...

By Jennifer McShane

CULTURE
‘The Office’ reunion show may be happening sooner than we think

The Office creator just announced that the cult favourite may...

By Shayna Sappington

INTERIORS, FASHION
10 wardrobe storage hacks that make sorting simple

In need of some extra space for your clothes but...

By Edaein OConnell

INTERIORS
A standard 1970s Kerry bungalow is transformed into a light-filled home

Wanting to place an emphasis on the incredible views of...

By Amanda Kavanagh

INTERIORS
10 desk ideas to create at home (with items you already own)

Fighting for the last remaining desk and quiet spot in the house? You don’t need a vast amount of space to make a work station, by simply rethinking your existing spaces any room or nook in your house can be turned into a useful home office, writes Orla Neligan.

By Lauren Heskin

TRAVEL
5 beautiful Irish Air BnBs to enjoy within your county before Christmas

Looking for a pre-Christmas break to unwind? Use up those...

By Erin Lindsay