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Five New Irish Books to Escape into This Summer

Whether you're looking for a handful of beach reads to take on that staycation, or simply want some compelling new titles to sink your teeth into this summer, you’re in luck. These five captivating new Irish novels will have you engrossed until the very last page, wherever you happen to be! From a thrilling page-turner to enjoy as you soak up the (Irish!) sun, to a thought-provoking look at what the end of the line might actually mean, our diverse list of fantastic Irish titles are amongst the best books of 2021. Read on and find your favourite summer read now. 

1.    Nora: Nuala O’Connor     

You don’t have to be a fan of Joyce’s famously dense prose to enjoy this captivating ode to his wife and muse. In Nora, Nuala O’Connor reimagines the relationship between James ‘Jim’ Joyce and Nora Barnacle, from their first meeting in a Dublin hotel, through their financial struggles, to the eventual stability (of sorts) they found together. A modern telling of this famous love-story, we recommend diving into this great summer read on your downtime this month. 

2.    Acts of Desperation: Megan Nolan  

To a more intense debut novel next, from Waterford essayist and journalist, Megan Nolan. Acts of Desperation charts an obsessive love affair, perfectly capturing both the ecstatic highs of romantic love alongside the anxiety, self-doubt and melancholy that often follow. An accomplished essayist, who has been published widely for her work to date, this is a book worth setting aside a weekend for – or adding to your collection of beach reads - whatever your plans might be!

3.    Line: Niall Bourke 

Niall Bourke’s Line is a bleak - often darkly funny – dystopian tale that sees Willard, his mother and girlfriend wait in a line that circles the globe and leads to... well, nobody knows. Posing questions about human nature, faith and oppression, Line is as ambitious as it is compelling. Already garnering a lot of critical acclaim, this is a book that will stay with you long after reading. 

4.    A Crooked Tree: Una Mannion 

Darker still is Una Mannion’s captivating coming-of-age debut, A Crooked Tree. Set in 1980s America (Mannion was born in Philadelphia but lives in Sligo), the story follows Libby Gallagher and her siblings. Despite the various traumas and a whole lot of family dysfunction, they must figure out how to find their way in the world.

5.    Diving for Pearls: Jamie O’Connell

Finally, a murder mystery set amidst the glitz and glamour of the United Arab Emirates. Jamie O’Connell’s debut follows the fall-out as the lives of six people (including an Irish man trying to outrun his problems at home) are altered forever when the body of a woman is found floating in the Dubai marina. 

Those are just five of the exciting new titles out this year, but as ever, we want to hear from you about what you think are the best books of 2021! If there’s a book you’re loving, or looking forward to – Sally Rooney’s forthcoming offering, Beautiful World, Where Are You, for example! - let us know online, using #ReadersWanted. Looking for more recommendations, check out our ten Irish books to add to your holiday reading list.

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