The book I really want to read: London Irish Fictions
Tony Murray has just brought out the first book-length study of the literature of the Irish in London. In LONDON IRISH FICTIONS he looks at over 30 Irish novels, short stories and autobiographies set in London since WWII. They are about exile and return, identity and representation and what people have felt about living in a culture that’s not their own.
Of course, it’s of interest if you’re Irish. And it explores part of your life if you’re London Irish – the ethnic identity that I call my own even though there’s never a box for it on official forms.
But I think its appeal is wider than that. I haven’t read it yet (see below for why) but I know some of the stories Tony has used, written by writers like Edna O’Brien, John McGahern and Emma Donoghue. I know the energy and beauty and diversity of those writers as I used to be a regular at the annual Irish Writers in London Summer School Tony runs every year.
I think this book would also appeal to anyone interested in the idea of belonging and not belonging, anyone who has migrated to establish a new life and the children and grandchildren of migrants who grow up learning to associate that simple and emotionally-loaded word home with somewhere far from the houses and streets they know.
Tony is Director of the Irish Studies Centre at London Metropolitan University and curator of the Archive of the Irish in Britain.
He also co-produced I Only Came Over for a Couple of Years… a brilliant documentary about elderly Irish people in London made in 2005.
Why I haven’t read LONDON IRISH FICTIONS yet.
It’s a gulping £70.
So far the publishers have only brought it out in hardback and at that price I guess it is only libraries who will buy it.
That’s why I’m writing to the publishers to ask if they are any plans to bring it out in paperback because I think it would sit very nicely on my bookshelf among all the writers Tony has introduced to me over the years.