General, Artists

Christmas Reads 2022

19th December, 2022

Independent book store No Alibis select their 2022 top 10 reads by local writers, as part of the Arts Council of Northern Ireland’s campaign to encourage shoppers to support the local creative community and give the gift of the arts this Christmas… #GiftTheArts

Selection of Book Covers featured in the Christmas Reads 2022 feature.
Christmas Reads 2022

The Colony by Audrey Magee (Faber)
Audrey Magee’s second novel takes place on an island off the west coast of Ireland where two visitors, an English painter and French linguist, are hosted by the islanders for a summer while news of the trouble in the north provides a backdrop. Written in vivid prose with an ear for dialogue, The Colony is an exploration of power and European colonisation, of lost language and missed opportunities. Longlisted for the Booker 2022.

Trespasses by Louise Kennedy (Bloomsbury)
Louise Kennedy’s eagerly anticipated debut novel follows hot on the heels of her celebrated collection The End of the World is a Cul de Sac (Bloomsbury 2021) and has exceeded all expectations. Trespasses tells the tragic story of a love affair across the political and social divide of the Troubles. Frequently cited as the novel of the year by staff and customers alike (not to mention An Post Irish Book Awards!), this heart-breaking, gripping read is the perfect introduction to Kennedy’s mastery of language and storytelling.

The world was all before them edited by Stephen Connolly (Lifeboat Press)
The latest offering from Lifeboat Press, published in conjunction with Tulca Festival of Visual Arts is an eclectic gathering of new writing from Simon Costello, Miriam Gamble, Dane Holt, Michael Magee, Padraig Regan, Trenna Sharpe and Sacha White. Expect suburbs, mushrooms, street corners, but explored by writers of poetry and prose who have a talent for making the everyday exceptional.

Poetry Unbound edited by Pádraig O’Tuama (Canongate)
If the poems in this beautifully produced anthology are, as the editor suggests, like ‘fifty little doors’, then Pádraig O’Tuama is our poet guide in the new worlds they reveal. His personal essays and responses put a spotlight on possible interpretations but never dogmatic, always with a sense of questions that may arise. A collection that celebrates creativity, diversity and understanding.

An Irish Atlantic Rainforest by Eoghan Daltun (Hachette Ireland)
Daltun’s story is a call to rewild, depicting his experiences of returning a 73-acre farm on the Beara peninsula in West Cork to its natural state as a native forest. As the forest grows, we are invited to consider the larger issues at hand: how to heal the planet, how to allow regeneration of a natural ecosystem on a larger scale. As beautifully descriptive and compelling as it is timely and necessary.

Impermanence edited by Neil Hegarty and Nora Hickey M’Sichili (No Alibis Press)
The most recent publication by No Alibis Press is a book of essays produced in partnership with the Centre Culturel Irlandais in Paris. Interpreting the theme of impermanence in myriad ways, from personal experiences of losing a family member to more public issues of political instability, the writers draw upon nature and landscape to explore memory, borders, identity, writing and much more besides. Enlightening and inspiring, these are celebrated Irish writers writing on a pertinent yet timeless theme.

Listen to the Land Speak by Manchán Magan (Gill Books)
Following the success of his best-selling book Thirty-Two Words for Field, Manchán Magan returns with an exploration of the world around us unveiling layers of meaning and intrigue. Focusing on Irish landscape, he travels across bogland, rivers and mountains to explore mythology and ancient wisdom that we have lost our connection with and arguably need now more than ever. Above all, it is Magan’s intellectual curiosity and enthusiasm that paints the everyday world in new and appealing colours.

If the River is Hidden by Cherry Smyth and Craig Jordan-Baker (Epoque Press)
Follow two writers as they travel from the source to the mouth of Northern Ireland’s longest river, the Bann, in this geographical and linguistic pilgrimage. Creating a rich dialogue of poetry and prose, Smyth and Jordan-Baker explore memories and meanings of place, reshaping personal experiences and expectations, and considering how the shared landscapes that define us can hold hidden meanings.

A Little Unsteadily Into Light: New Dementia-Inspired Fiction edited by Jan Carson and Jane Lugea (New Island)
These fourteen new short stories by celebrated writers from across Ireland and the UK give an insight into personal experiences of dementia, at once challenging received notions of what it is and the experiences of those whose lives are affected by it on a daily basis. The stories are at times startling in what they reveal and include moments of dark humour often omitted from representations of dementia. Most importantly, they succeed in their purpose of capturing the complexity and diversity of dementia, as Jan Carson puts it: ‘a muddle of competing emotions: the good, the bad and the ugly, often experienced simultaneously.’

Close to Home by Michael Magee (Hamish Hamilton, Penguin) Forthcoming April 2023
With diverging eclectic tastes and a penchant for debating books, it’s rare to find a book that the staff at No Alibis agree on. But here it is. Michael Magee’s depiction of working-class Belfast is pitch-perfect, his characters feel real, his story is completely absorbing, he has absolutely nailed the elusive skill of knowing how much to leave out when telling a story. Exploring masculinity, class, trauma, it’s unlike anything else out there. Close to Home is looking like the must-read book of 2023.