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‘I wrote it as therapy to get my head around my childhood’ - Christine Dwyer Hickey

Based on her early life, Christine Dwyer Hickey's first novel, 'Tatty', has been chosen as the Dublin One City One Book for 2020. She tells Henrietta McKervey how she hopes the book's return to the spotlight will spark a conversation about some of the issues she faced

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Past imperfect: Christine Dwyer Hickey. Photo by Sergey Talichken

Past imperfect: Christine Dwyer Hickey. Photo by Sergey Talichken

Past imperfect: Christine Dwyer Hickey. Photo by Sergey Talichken

It's February 2019. Writer Christine Dwyer Hickey is invited to the launch of Dublin One City One Book: Edna O'Brien's classic The Country Girls. Dwyer Hickey's ninth novel, The Narrow Land, is due two weeks later, and she's pre-occupied with thoughts of its future (she needn't worry: it is going to be loved by critics and readers alike, and shortlisted for Eason Novel of the Year at the An Post Irish Book Awards).

She's not thinking about Tatty, a book she published 15 years earlier. Why should she? Books are like babies that way, the newest one always seeming to need you most, wriggling through your arms and veins, forever demanding a furious, hard sort of attention.

February 2020. Dwyer Hickey is back in the same room in the Mansion House, at another crowded Dublin One City One Book launch. But this year, she is sitting at the big table, stacks of copies of Tatty piled up on either side. The signing queue takes an hour to thin.