RaveThe Irish Times (IRE)Prendergast created this guidebook from remnants of a previous book, \'a pile of unused jottings and scribbles set aside…on the theme of walks\'. One is reminded of the shoemaker’s last pieces of leather transformed overnight into a very fine pair of shoes – these shoes walk the reader through Marcel Proust’s Á la recherche du temps perdu in great style ... Delving into the finer points of language, sentence structure and etymology, Prendergast’s approach feels Proustian in its scope and attention but above all in his witty response to the French novelist’s wicked sense of humour ... And indeed it is Proust’s examination of the wasted side of our lives which Prendergast highlights with such flair and wit. Scholarly, rich and succinct ... This volume is bound to resurrect readers’ interest of Á la recherche du temps perdu – although it does contain plot spoilers for newbies. In Prendergast’s hands the return journey is irresistible.
RaveThe Irish Times (IRE)Antrobus is leaping gracefully into new forms, punctuating sections with captions inspired by deaf sound artist Christine Sun Kim ... There are fine poems for his partner Tabitha providing warm relief alongside the loneliness of poems about race and disability ... One of Antrobus’s greatest gifts lies in the way he expresses loneliness with courage and humour so that a particular life can be understood, its urgent code concrete and pressing[.]
PositiveThe Irish Times (IRE)Fiona Sampson’s passionate and exacting biography of Elizabeth Barrett Browning is a surprisingly compact volume, a bristling lyrical sandwich of philosophy and action. It is also a page-turner. Like many great 19th century novels, it begins with a charismatic house – Hope End in Herefordshire is brought dazzlingly to life on these pages ...It feels like stakes couldn’t be higher for Sampson, and this gives an enormous charge to a vividly personal account, balanced with self-knowledge and self-examination.
RaveThe Irish Times (UK)...a collection of hard-won, highly-wrought, fiercely dazzling essays about life in one woman’s body ... Things are changing, thanks to tireless campaigners like Gleeson. These essays are political and they tell of how a life can be saved several times and lived to the full, despite great pain, despite great obstacles ... The essays are varied in form, breaking the boundaries between prose and poetry, using the white space of the page to experiment with free verse ... Something tells me that Constellations will be here a long time...
RaveThe Irish Times (IRE)Building is the operative word—pages filled with dense low building blocks of narrative and meditation, rubbing shoulders with lapidary dancing love lyrics ... Diaz tackles erasure like it’s never been tackled before...forcing us to recognise the connections between brown skin and poverty ... Yet, what should be the saddest collection is an exultant sky hook, dark humour flickering like a whiplash, like the \'Snake-light\' allowing Diaz \'to read a text in anything.\'
RaveThe Irish Times...unsparing ... there is no self-pity or justification in its calm excavation of the lasting damage caused to a family by addiction ... The second essay, From the Baby Years, charts the gruelling process of trying and failing to conceive and the pain of miscarriage. The mood is different and it is perhaps more introspective yet equally raw and harrowing ... I’ve never read anything quite like these essays. Pine’s fluent intelligence flows through each question, each dilemma, in its own inimitable way. It’s the kind of book you want to give to everyone.
PositiveThe Irish TimesAhern has a disarmingly down-to-earth empathy and is at her sharpest and funniest when characters have their backs to the wall ... These stories, of course, are only the beginning of Roar which will continue to develop on the screen. There is much to develop here as the story collection teems with ideas ... But fairy tales have always starred queens and princesses living in castles even when their audience and narrators lived in middens and ate out of communal pots ... Just a little more hardship and difficulty before the happy ending could allow Ahern’s brave women to soar (and roar) higher.
Frans de Waal
PositiveThe Irish Times\"... Mama’s Last Hug is a densely packed volume covering a range of emotions – empathy, sympathy, disgust, shame, sense of fairness – that we share with animals ... Building solid evidence in case after case with a few educated guesses, always returning to carefully controlled experiments which show the humbling complexity of animals.\
PositiveThe Irish Times (IRELAND)The choice of the verb \'composed\' is apposite here because this indefinable book often reads like the poetry which means so much to Popova’s heroes while themes and motifs return as in music with renewed beauty and meaning. Figuring begins with a prelude and unrolls like a poem—chapter zero is a sustained incantation ... And then thrillingly as in a novel, the second chapter flings us into a seventeenth century carriage with Johannes Kepler ... Like Popova, these characters love poetry as much as they love mathematics. Popova beautifully closes the artificial gap that has arisen over the years between the two disciplines ... Although it is impossible to cover the multiplicity of the themes and stories here, love is a central theme, particularly the love of women for other women.
PositiveThe Irish TimesA recently widowed English woman, Martha Cassidy, is driving in the dark, lost somewhere outside Cahirsiveen. Her husband, Brendan Cassidy, has died suddenly of a heart attack, and she is on her way to his remote summer cottage on the headland. The practical need to sort and pack up his things is clearly more than that. \'Coming here forces her to accept his loss. This was always his place.\' ... Hubbard’s precise descriptions of the physical landscape are tremendous and moving. There is a real sense of Kerry here, and Martha’s empathy with Irish people past and present permeates her solitary adventure.
PositiveThe Irish Times\"A gifted biographer with a wonderfully light and pin-precise touch, Tomalin has compressed her own difficult, often tragic yet highly successful life into a surprisingly compact volume ... Her meticulous, empathetic biographies, like this memoir, send the reader back in dizzy delight to books and more books. Tomalin is a true and infectious reader, a legacy from her mother who told her \'that whatever happens to you, however unhappy you might be, you can escape into a book.\' \