Thursday 27 October 2016

The best new titles in bloom this spring

Alison Walsh

Published 04/01/2016 | 02:30

First time: Journalist Emily Hourican makes her fiction debut with 'The Privileged'.
First time: Journalist Emily Hourican makes her fiction debut with 'The Privileged'.

It seems appropriate to begin our look at spring books with a Nobel winner: Seamus Heaney and his translation of the Aeneid, the epic poem that so influenced his own writing (Faber, March). The Drowned Detective is an intriguing Eastern-European mystery from Neil Jordan (Bloomsbury, February), while death stalks Mike McCormack's daring, profound Solar Bones (Tramp Press, May) and also Martin Malone's Black Rose Days (New Island, March), where an unsolved murder comes back to haunt.

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The past is a theme for Dermot Bolger in The Lonely Sea and Sky (New Island, April) based on a real-life incident in 1943, when an Irish crew saved 168 shipwrecked German sailors; Mia Gallagher's Beautiful Pictures of the Lost Homeland (New Island, April) also ripples out to war-torn Germany, whilst in Citizens, Kevin Curran's disaffected Neil delves into his ancestor's activities in the Easter Rising (Liberties, January).

Bringing us bang up to date again is Liz Nugent in Lying in Wait, where a judge and his wife worry about the body they've buried in the back garden (Penguin Ireland, July); The Ponzi Man comes from journalist Declan Lynch as John Devlin makes the gamble of a lifetime (Hachette Books Ireland, May); whilst Henrietta McKervey's The Heart of Everything reunites three siblings in search of their missing mother (Hachette Books Ireland, March). Colours Other Than Blue is Anthony Glavin's heartfelt, funny story of single mum Maeve Maguire (Ward River Press, March).

Journalist Emily Hourican makes her fiction debut with The Privileged (Hachette Books Ireland, April), as three women hover on the verge of adulthood. Debuts also follow from Justine Delaney Wilson, who explores prejudice in The Difference (Hachette Books Ireland, May) and Paraic O'Donnell, with The Maker of Swans (W&N, February), described as The Night Circus meets The Tiger's Wife meets Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell. Poet Conor O'Callaghan turns to fiction with Nothing on Earth (Doubleday Ireland, May), which opens with a mystery visit, while fellow poet Patrick Deeley's The Hurley Maker's Son (Doubleday Ireland, April) is a memoir about the loss of a father. The Last Days of Summer is a slice of Gothic Americana from Vanessa Ronan (Penguin Ireland, May) and EM Reapy's Red Dirt (Head of Zeus, June) is described as The Beach for the recession generation.

Short stories are happily in vogue this spring. Julia O'Faolain's Under the Rose (Faber, March) includes eight previously unpublished stories; Mary Morrissy's Prosperity Drive looks at the residents of an Ireland in miniature (Cape, February) and Carlo Gebler looks at prison life in The Wing Orderly's Tales (New Island, February). Gods and Angels is a new collection from David Park (Bloomsbury, May) and This is the Ritual (Bloomsbury/Lilliput, January) comes from the much-praised Rob Doyle.

Further afield, Julian Barnes's new novel The Noise of Time is set in Leningrad in 1937 (Cape, January) and The High Mountains of Portugal comes from Life of Pi's Yann Martel (Canongate, February). The Course of Love is Alain de Botton's look at a long marriage (Hamish Hamilton, April), whilst Curtis Sittenfeld's Eligible transplants Pride and Prejudice to Ohio (Borough Press, April). Pulitzer-winner Elizabeth Strout's My Name is Lucy Barton (Viking, February) looks at the mother-daughter bond. Louise Doughty's Black Water is a tangled web of love and secrets (Faber, June), whilst Maggie O'Farrell's This Must be the Place (Tinder Press, May) looks at a marriage in freefall.

There's plenty of more popular fare, too: in Fionnuala Kearney's The Day I Lost You (HarperCollins, February) Jess's daughter's death reveals uncomfortable truths; in Joan Brady's The Cin derella Reflex (Poolbeg, February) Tess decides to stop waiting for Mr Right. In Someone New from Zoe Miller (Hachette Books Ireland, April) Grace digs up the secrets of the past and in Martina Reilly's The Scent of Apples (Hachette Books Ireland, May) childhood bonds save a man from murder.

In Sheila O'Flanagan's The Missing Wife (Headline, June) a not-so-perfect marriage is dissected whilst Roisin Meaney's The Reunion reunites two old schoolfriends (Hachette Books Ireland, June). Rebel Sisters is Marita Conlon-McKenna's take on 1916 (Transworld Ireland, Feb), whilst the 1920s-set The Girl from the Savoy is the new novel from Hazel Gaynor (HarperFiction, May).

The Irish are blazing a trail in crime, with debuts from Vanessa O'Loughlin, writing as Sam Blake, in The Dressmaker, (Twenty7, May) and Catherine Ryan Howard with Distress Signals (Corvus, June). Sisters and Lies marks the debut of Bernice Barrington (Penguin Ireland, March), as Rachel Darcy wonders what happened to her sister. In Sheila Bugler's All Things Nice (Brandon, April), DI Ellen Kelly looks into the dark heart of the Gleeson family, while Ava McCarthy returns with Dead Secret, about a woman who fears her husband has killed their daughter (Harper, January); In Karen Perry's Girl Unknown, a long-lost daughter gives David a shock (Viking). John Connolly returns with A Time of Torment (Hodder, April), as does Alan Glynn with Paradime, a complex modern thriller (Faber, June).

In non-fiction, the 1916 deluge is contained to a few titles: One Bold Deed of Open Treason: Sir Roger Casement's Berlin Diaries, 1914-1916, by Angus Mitchell (Merrion, February); Lorcan Collins's 1916: The Rising Handbook (O'Brien, February); and A History of the Easter Rising in 50 Objects by John Gibney (Mercier, February), along with The Splendid Years: The Lost Memoirs of an Abbey Actress and 1916 Rebel (Máire Nic Shuibhlaigh, ed. David Kenny, March, New Island).

Christopher Fauske's study, Louis MacNeice (Irish Academic Press, February) is followed by Myles Dungan's take on the Wild West, How the Irish Won the West (New Island, March); Minding Mum is Alison Canavan's wry, honest look at motherhood (Gill, February) and there's Alice Carey's memoir From the West Village to West Cork (Collins Press, April) and Catriona Palmer's adoption story An Affair with My Mother (Penguin Ireland, March). Charlie Bird's A Day in May (Merrion Press, May) remembers the Marriage Equality Referendum, while John Waters writes a letter to his father in Crossing the Road (Lilliput, April). Finally, Marian Keyes will keep us laughing right through to winter with her essays in Making it Up as I Go Along (Penguin, February).

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