In celebration of International Women’s Day, we wanted to curate a list of five collections by Irish women that you absolutely must read.
1 The Portable Virgin, by Anne Enright
A collection of elegantly crafted and hard-hitting short stories. This début thrust Enright onto the literary scene as a force to be reckoned with – and since then, she has proven to be nothing short of brilliant. This collection is an exercise in precise writing of short stories. Not a single phrase or word goes to waste, each an essential building block in its respective story’s narrative.
2 The Radio was Gospel, by Elaine Feeney
Feeney’s third collection of poetry is a lesson in rhythmic storytelling. This collection is moving, hilarious, and utterly relatable for so many Irish people. Feeney’s attunement to the local and its relation to the universal is astonishingly frank. You will return again and again to this collection.
3 The Long-Winded Lady, by Maeve Brennan
Maeve Brennan’s writing is of a well-skilled people watcher (but then again, aren’t all writers?). She traces New York city through this collection, and is shameless about describing it as a city for a woman with ordinary things to do. She takes up space in the vast, sprawling city and makes zero apologies for it. Brennan’s collection The Long-Winded Lady makes it onto many lists of collections to read because it is simply that brilliant.
4 Modern Times, by Cathy Sweeney
This début collection is wonderfully inventive, strange and downright weird. Sinéad Gleeson said it best: “Cathy Sweeney’s work is jaw-droppingly good: inventive, funny, lush. One of the best short story writers working today.” If you’re looking for a truly unique read this #IWD, seek out this collection.
5 Liffey Swim, by Jessica Traynor
Liffy Swim is Jessica Traynor’s début collection of poetry. The Dubliner weaves the personal with the local to construct an exquisitely assured collection of poems. Harry Clifton says of the work; “Her finely lyrical work is informed by wide travel, a meditative intelligence and an acute sense of history, in which Dublin and its three rivers become a living metaphor for the truths and felicities of one woman’s life.” If any of you are away from Dublin and missing the city and its power, this collection of poetry will make you feel closer to it and its brilliant women this #IWD.