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Irish fiction to look forward to in 2022

Here are the books to look out for next year.

Image: Shutterstock/wavebreakmedia

IRISH WRITING HAS lots of exciting stuff in store for 2022, with both debut novelists and longtime favourites set to publish some fantastic work. 

Here are our top picks for fiction to look out for next year – keep an eye out for our upcoming non-fiction roundup.

January

Breaking Point by Edel Coffey

  • Little, Brown, January

You’ll no doubt have read work by Coffey, an Irish journalist and broadcaster, or heard her excellent book reviews on RTÉ’s Arena over the years. This is a writer who knows writing, so hopes are high for her debut novel. The plot is a really topical one too – Susannah, a doctor, researcher, and professor, has a busy home life. She doesn’t realise she’s at breaking point until she leaves her young daughter in the car on a hot day, with tragic results. 

The Raptures by Jan Carson

  • Doubleday, January

This fantastic novel centres on the absorbing story of young Hannah, a teenager who lives in a small community in Belfast. As other teenagers in her class start dying from a mysterious disease, Hannah finds herself in a very unusual position, as the only one who seems to be immune. Covering topics like religion, family, childhood and belief with a sharp eye and a magic touch, this book should be a big hit next year. 

February

The Letter Home by Rachael English

  • Hachette Ireland, February

The writer and Morning Ireland broadcaster writes a “heartbreaking” novel that moves between west of Ireland and Boston. It tells the story of Jessie Daly, who travels home to Ireland’s west coast and helps an old friend researching what happened in the area during the 1840s Famine. They are drawn to the story of a brave young mother called Bridget Moloney, and Jessie becomes determined to find out what happened to Bridget and her daughter, Norah. On the other side of the Atlantic, Kaitlin Wilson is researching her family tree and the two find themselves connected. English once again draws on Ireland’s past to explore the experiences of families in all their emotional intensity. 

Cruel Deeds by Catherine Kirwan

  • Hachette Ireland, February 

Solicitor Catherine Kirwan mines from the world of law with this story about a successful lawyer who is found murdered, and the colleague who gets drawn into her life. It turns out that the dead solicitor has secrets – and she wasn’t the only one at the firm with something to hide. 

Buried Angels by Patricia Gibney

  • Sphere, February

Another one for crime fans. Detective Lottie Parker (a regular in Gibney’s books) is called to investigate when a woman named Faye Baker discovers a child’s skull behind the walls of her new home. The house has been owned for years by the family of Faye’s boyfriend Jeff, so when Jeff starts acting suspiciously, Lottie wonders what he might be hiding…

We Were Young by Niamh Campbell

  • W&N, February

Campbell’s debut novel was an excellent look at flawed relationships. In her follow-up she focuses on a man named Cormac. Single and about to turn 40, he finds his life changed when he meets Caroline – and at the same time, he has to take responsibility for his brother, who is in the midst of a midlife crisis. Expect a sharp eye turned to the modern relationship in this novel. 

Again, Rachel by Marian Keyes

  • Penguin, February

What did we do to deserve a sequel to Rachel’s Holiday? We pick up again with Rachel Walsh at aged 50, decades on from when we first met her as she went through rehab in her 20s. It’ll be really interesting to see how Keyes presents us with Rachel’s new life – she’s gone from student to teacher in the addiction world – and explores the experiences of women in their 50s, an area ripe for writing about. 

Dance Move by Wendy Erskine

  • Stinging Fly, February

One of the island’s best short story writers, Belfast writer Erskine is back with her second collection. She’s able to get herself into the mind of people as they wrestle with this thing called life, but with a counter-culture attitude. Able to buoy you up in one moment and devastate you the next, you’re in the hands of a serious talent here.

March 

They All Lied by Louise Phillips

  • Hachette Ireland, March 

Nadine Fitzmaurice’s life is turned upside-down when she gets a call from her 18-year-old daughter, Becca, telling her she’s killed someone and is being held hostage. Nadine is soon dragged into the criminal underworld of organised crime, being forced to repay a debt in order to gain Becca’s freedom. An intriguing premise from Phillips, who is the author of five bestselling psychological crime thrillers. 

The Truth will Out by Rosemary Hennigan

  • Orion, March

This debut novel is described as “Black Swan meets Sweet Sorrow”, and brings us the character Dara Gaffney, a young actor who gets a leading role in the revival of a hugely successful yet controversial play. The play is based on an unsolved real-life murder, and there are claims the playwright had an ulterior motive when she penned it. As opening night draws closer, the cast find it harder and harder to separate themselves from the characters. Hennigan is a former TCD student and solicitor who has also worked in human rights advocacy – she was shortlisted for the Benedict Kiely Short Story Competition and longlisted for the Colm Toibin Short Story Competition. 

Duffy and Son by Damien Owens

  • HarperCollins Ireland, March

Damien Owens is the author of five novels, and the creator and writer of Trivia, a television comedy/drama which ran for two series on RTÉ.  So expect plenty of wry humour in his latest novel, which is about Eugene Duffy, who was left by his wife to raise two teenage children. They are now grown up and as his 70th and his son’s 40th approach, Eugene decides it’s time for drastic measures and throws himself into the task of finding his son a wife. Of course, things don’t go to plan. 

These Days by Lucy Caldwell

  • Faber, March

Another excellent short story writer, particularly good at looking into the lives of women and girls, Caldwell’s first novel in nearly a decade follows the lives of two sisters, Emma and Audrey, in Belfast during WWII. Caldwell wrote this novel about the Belfast Blitz while in lockdown and says the characters feel “more real to me than any other characters I’ve written”.

Homesickness by Colin Barrett

  • Vintage, March

The author of Young Skins and winner of the Rooney Prize for Irish Literature returns with a collection of short stories.  They’re set in various locations – rural County Mayo, Toronto – and include tales of outcasts and misfits. Another excellent short story writer, Barrett mines rural Ireland for absurdity and truth.

April

Trespasses by Louise Kennedy

  • Bloomsbury, April

Louise Kennedy’s debut collection of short stories was critically lauded and introduced a major new Irish voice – and hot on the book’s heels comes her debut novel. This is set in a small town in the north of Ireland and is about an affair between Cushla and Michael, a relationship that threatens to destroy them both. 

The Quiet Whispers Never Stop by Olivia Fitzsimons

  • John Murray, April

This novel is also set in Northern Ireland, in the 1980s and 1990s, and is written by a Co Down native. It’s about Nuala Malin, who is struggling with her life – and then finds unexpected refuge with a 17-year-old boy. When she’s subsequently given a chance to leave the north, she does. That was in 1982 – fast forward to 1994, and her daughter Sam Malin plans her own escape. 

What Eden Did Next by Sheila O’Flanagan

  • Headline, April

O’Flanagan is a longtime bestselling author, who is hugely prolific – she’s written over 30 novels. In this latest one, we meet Eden, who has already suffered the unexpected loss of her husband Andy. She has their daughter and his family to support her – but when she meets someone knew, Andy’s mother stands in the way, and the entire family could suffer. 

The Wedding Party by Cathy Kelly

  • Orion, April

Another bestselling commercial fiction author, Kelly has sold millions of books. Her latest is about four sisters who return home for their parents’ wedding, at the Hotel Sorrento where they all grew up. For the first time in 15 years, the sisters are back together – and it doesn’t take long for long-buried secrets to surface…

The Deadwood Encore, by Kathleen Murray

  • HarperCollins Ireland, April

This debut novel is about Frank Walsh, the seventh son of a seventh son, who hasn’t quite inherited his late father’s legendary healing power. He already feels adrift in Carlow when his twin, Bernie, confides something to him that casts a shadow over how he perceives his place in the world… and then he discovers that his father had been keeping secrets of his own. Kathleen Murray has been published in The Stinging Fly, The Moth, Dublin Review, Prairie Schooner and various anthologies, and this is her first novel.

None of This Is Serious by Catherine Prasifka

  • Canongate, April

Another debut novel, this time for fans of Naoise Dolan and Sally Rooney. Prasifka focuses her novel on Sophie, a young woman leaving college who’s trying to figure out what’s going on in her love life and deal with feeling overshadowed by her sister. There’s also an unexpected worldwide event that takes place, which makes her protagonist really question her trajectory in life. This is a book that really shows how communication can be helped by social media, but very much hindered by it too.

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The Choice

  • Gill Books, April

Philly McMahon and Niall Kelly (deputy editor of our sister site The42.ie) write a work of fiction inspired by Philly’s memoir The Choice. Aimed at people aged 12+, this is described as “a moving and inspirational story of family, fate and the decisions that shape our lives”. It’s about two brothers growing up in the shadows of Ballymun flats who are on very different paths: Philly and John. The book explores whether their futures were set in stone, or if they reflected the choices they made in life. 

Seven Steeples by Sara Baume

  • Tramp Press, April

Fans of artist and writer Sara Baume’s work have been salivating at the thought of a new work of fiction from her. Her latest is described as “a poised yet passionate novel about the transformation of love and the self over the years”. It tells the story of Bell and Sigh, two artists living at the bottom of a mountain.

The Geometer Lobachevsky by Adrian Duncan

  • The Lilliput Press, April

In The Geometer Lobachevsky (his fourth book in four years) Duncan brings back to the early 1950s. Soviet geometer (mathematician) Nikolai Lobachevsky is working with Bord na Móna with a land survey, but during his visit he receives a letter from the MGB ordering him home to Leningrad for ‘a special appointment’. Immediately suspicious, he goes into hiding on a small island in the Shannon Estuary.

Idol by Louise O’Neill

  • Transworld, April

Cork author O’Neill’s latest work of fiction is her third aimed at adults, and its premise is bang up to date – it’s about an influencer called Samantha Miller who writes an essay about her sexual awakening when she was a teenager. But then her friend gets in touch with memories that are much darker than Samantha’s. The time is ripe to really look at the world of celebrity influencers, and O’Neill is well equipped to examine it with a feminist lens. 

May

The Last to Disappear by Jo Spain

  • Quercus, May

 When Alex Evans is informed that his sister’s body has been pulled from an icy lake in Northern Lapland, he assumes his sister accidentally drowned. But when he goes to the place where she died, the investigating detective tells him that she thinks there’s more to Vicky’s case than meets the eye. As the two form an unlikely alliance, Alex also begins to suspect the small town where his sister lived and died is harbouring secrets. 

 The Belladonna Maze by Sinéad Crowley

  • Aria, May

Fans of RTÉ arts reporter Crowley’s writing will know she pens gripping crime novels. In her latest, Crowley writes about a home called Hollowpark in the west of Ireland (home to the Belladonna Maze of the title, where a young girl once disappeared). Her protagonist is Grace, who moves to Hollowpark to work as a nanny for Skye FitzMahon. The mysterious past of Hollowpark soon becomes an obsession for Grace – and then she starts seeing apparitions… 

June

The Horse of Selene by Juanita Casey

  • Tramp Press, June

This rediscovered novel was written in just six weeks during the summer of 1964 while Casey camped on Achill Island. Tramp Press say that she “was a central figure in the rural and coastal ex-patriot bohemian scene”, and the novel is described as the lost connection between JM Synge and Kevin Barry. 

Days of Old (Le Tiers Temps) by Maylis Besseris, translated by Clíona Ní Ríordáin

  • The Lilliput Press, June

This novel by Maylis Besserie shows us Samuel Beckett at the end of his life in 1989, living in the Le Tiers-Temps retirement home. The home is “peopled with strange, unhinged individuals, waiting for the end of days”. Days of Old won the “Goncourt du premier roman”, the French literary prize for first time novelists, just before the country went into lockdown.

Edith by Martina Devlin 

  • The Lilliput Press, June

Devlin is an award-winning columnist for the Irish Independent and podcaster for Dublin City of Literature #CityofBooks. Her latest novel is based on the life of Edith Somerville of ‘Somerville and Ross’ fame. This novel is set during Irish Independence 1921–22, when Somerville finds herself at a crossroads and struggling to keep her family home, Drishane House in West Cork, while others are burned out. 

August

Headwreck by Emer Marin 

  • The Lilliput Press, August

This is both a stand-alone work and continuation of The Cruelty Men, Martin’s earlier fictionalised epic intergenerational family saga, from 1970 to the present day. The novel follows the story of the O’Conaills, an Irish-speaking family who had moved from Kerry to the Meath Gaeltacht, and the disasters that ensue for their children in Irish institutions.

September

There’s Been a Little Incident by Alice Ryan

  • September

Ryan is the daughter of the late Irish Times literary editor Caroline Walsh and writer James Ryan. After her mother died tragically 10 years ago, Ryan sought solace in writing, and this book tells the story of a woman who goes missing and the impact it has on her family.

October

Where I End by Sophie White
  • Tramp Press, October
White’s latest work of fiction centres on teenager Aoileann, who has never left the island where she has grown up. Her mother cannot leave her bed, and secrets about her past abound. Aoileann desperately wants a family and when a woman named Sarah and her three young children move to the island, Aoileann finds a focus for her relentless love. “A horror story about being bound by the blood knot of family,” say the publishers. 

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