Explore Ireland’s history and culture through these tales of loss and love by Sally Rooney, Edna O’Brien, Colm Tóibín and more

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I was born in Toronto and moved to Ireland as a boy, where I spent some formative years in a planned, Khrushchevian-style satellite town in south County Clare. Settlers arrived in waves from Belfast, London, New York or further afield – from cities throughout Chile and South Africa. In this multicultural outpost, populated by residential tourists, we became wry observers of traditional nuances. For me, Ireland’s political, historical and cultural landscapes were first properly discovered in the country’s literature. The greats, such as Wilde, Yeats and Joyce, offered signposts to the past while more contemporary writers, including Roddy Doyle, Flann O’Brien and Jamie O’Neill, shone a light on lesser-heard Irish voices. And so my selection of novels echoes Ireland’s literary journey from pre-famine to the present day.

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