It’s week one of Reading Ireland Week and… okay look. I need a quick and easy, list-style prompt to get me back in the game. I haven’t posted all year. Nor have I read any Irish books (though that will change soon). Week one of Cathy’s long-running event prompts us to rank our top five Irish “novels, writers, films, musicians, plays, poems, albums” and so on, and I am ready to take it in just a slightly different direction…
While I love me some Tóibín, Joyce, and Keyes (Marian, that is), much of my Irish reading is actually Irish-Canadian reading. Here are my top five Irish-Canadian authors:
- Emma Donoghue: You probably already know Donoghue’s work. She was born in Dublin and has lived in London (Ontario) for many years. Her novels are sometimes set in Ireland, sometimes Great Britain, occaisonally The States, and I don’t know if it was established where exactly that Room was. I don’t know that she’s ever set a book in Canada. Slammerkin (England and Wales) is my favourite, but for some Irish flavour I recommend The Wonder.
- Anakana Schofield: Like Donoghue, Schofield came to Canada from Dublin in the late nineties and writes novels set in Ireland. She hasn’t had quite same breakout success, but her latest novels, Martin John and Bina, did receive huge acclaim and several prize shortlistings. I think her debut Malarkey (how’s that for an Irish title) is her masterpiece, and one of the funniest books I’ve ever read.
- Brian Moore: Moore only lived in Canada for ten years, but managed to write Black Robe, a CanLit classic with the dubious honour of having inspired Joseph Boyden to write The Orenda. Many of his novels are set in his native Northern Ireland, including The Lonely Passion of Judith Hearne, which I so enjoyed for last year’s centennial event.
- Colin Barrett: Barrett’s a rare case, in that he was born in Canada, grew up in Ireland, and returned at some point (I think – his bio is not so detailed as the authors above, but his Twitter suggests he’s living in Toronto). Also rare in that he exclusively writes short stories. His collection Young Skins came out nearly a decade ago, with only a movie adaptation to tide us over, but we are mere days away from the follow up, Homesickness. Will we get a story set in Canada? I’m not picky after waiting this long!
- Jane Urquhart: Okay, I’m cheating on several counts here. Jane Urquhart isn’t really Irish-Canadian. She has Irish ancestry, and draws on it heavily for her novels, but as far as I can tell she’s spent most of her life in Ontario. And, I’m not entirely sure I’ve read her! I definitely own The Stone Carvers and Away, the latter being the more Irish of the two – perhaps it’s time to finally read (or reread) it.