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Embassy Book Club: Spring Reading Suggestions

Embassy Book Club

Dear Readers and Book Clubbers,

At our recent Book Club discussion of “Things in Jars”, some participants enjoyed the book so much that they had already bought two earlier, more contemporary, books by Jess Kidd – “Himself” and “The Hoarder”, so it seemed to me that there is an even bigger appetite for book recommendations than ever, going beyond the 2020 Reading List for the Embassy Book Club.

I thought it might be interesting to share some more recommendations, so, in that vein – at the Book Club, I also mentioned Irish writer Jan Carson, who won the European Prize for Literature for “The Fire Starters”, as well as books by Lucy Caldwell, recent guest of Waterstones Brussels, who has edited “Being Various” (new contemporary short stories from Ireland) and published books of her own including “Multitudes” and the novels “The Meeting Point” and “All The Beggars Riding.”

Another literary Lucy, local Irish writer Lucy Foley, was our guest at our Waterstones Christmas event with her best-selling murder mystery “The Hunting Party” and in April we will be discussing her new thriller “The Guest List” but she also has some lovely earlier historical fiction including “The Invitation”, “Last Letter from Istanbul” and “The Book of Lost and Found.”

John Banville will be in Brussels at Passaporta in March on St Patrick's Day with his latest work under the pen name Benjamin Black, and all of the Benjamin Black mysteries are well worth a read, as are of course all of his literary novels.

Recent “writers in residence” at the Leuven Centre for Irish Studies, Rosemary Jenkinson and Billy Callaghan, each have some wonderful books in their backlist, like “Catholic Boy” from Rosemary and Billy’s latest publication “My Coney Island Baby” is getting rave reviews. Mary O’Donnell’s short story collection “Empire” is well worth a read, as are all her works and she will be the next writer in residence here.

Éilís Ní Dhuibhne and David Park will in Bruges on 7-8 March for Bruges Public Library literary event Lees Meer! (Read More!) and I can highly recommend all of their prolific and varied back catalogue, as well as all ten novels of recent, very popular, Book Club visiting author, Catherine Dunne. And indeed we would recommend you seek out all the books published by our 2017, 2018 and 2019 reading list (see below) and visiting authors as you are sure to find more to interest and fascinate you, including from Niamh Boyce, Nessa O’Mahony and Dermot Bolger.

There are some brilliant new Irish writers bringing out their first books this year, so it is well worth keeping an eye out for newly published novels with evocative titles such as “The Temple House Vanishing”, “Big Girl, Small Town”, “Exciting Times”, “Tennis Lessons”, “Here Is The Beehive”, “The Hungry Road”, “A Ghost In The Throat” and “As You Were”.

More established authors like Colum McCann, Eimear McBride (a memorable panellist here at Passaporta for our 2018 One City One Book event celebrating “The Long Gaze Back”), Sebastian Barry, Maggie O’Farrell, Patricia Scanlan, Kathleen MacMahon and Roddy Doyle, all have new books out this year.

And if you enjoy a good psychological thriller or murder mystery, there are some great Irish writers in this genre including; Jane Casey, Alex Barclay, Dervla McTiernan, Tana French, Sinead Crowley, Liz Nugent, Jo Spain, Catherine Ryan Howard, Andrea Mara – many murderous #VisibleWomen2020!

I hope you find these additional bookish suggestions useful for your reading pursuits and we look forward to welcoming you to the next Embassy Book Club gatherings in April, May and June. Details will be available on our News & Events page soon. 

PS: our good friend Graham Norton has just announced that he has a new book coming out in October, so he is already on the Embassy Book Club Reading List for 2021! (when we will return to reading books by both male and female authors).

Helena Nolan 

Ambassador of Ireland


Past Embassy Book Club Selections

Title Author  
Things in Jars Jess Kidd February 2020
The Years That Followed Catherine Dunne January 2020
Travelling in a Strange Land David Park December 2019
An Ark of Light Dermot Bolger November 2019
Her Kind  Niamh Boyce October 2019
Shadowplay Joseph O'Connor September 2019
Manhattan Project Paul McNeive June 2019
When All Is Said Anne Griffin May 2019
A Keeper Graham Norton April 2019
The Branchman Nessa O'Mahony February 2019
Solar Bones Mike McCormack December 2018
Normal People Sally Rooney October 2018
Connect Julian Gough September 2018
The Trick To Time Kit de Waal June 2018
The Heart's Invisible Furies John Boyne April 2018
When Light Is Like Water Molly McCloskey March 2018
Midwinter Break Bernard MacLaverty January 2018
Academy Street Mary Costello November 2017


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