Irish BOOKS of recent years: Top 10 PICKS for World Book Night

Celebrate the literary talent of Ireland with our top 10 books to add to your reading list.

Irish BOOKS of recent years: Top 10 PICKS for World Book Day.

With World Book Day just around the corner, what better time to get lost in the world of fiction?

Ireland has a long and rich literary history, and it’s no surprise that Irish authors are still achieving massive success. Explore our picks of the best Irish books in recent years.

10. Normal People by Sally Rooney – an exploration of alienation and connection

Recently adapted into the hugely popular TV series of the same name, Sally Rooney’s Normal People tells the story of a deep and long-standing connection shared by Connell and Marianne.

However, while the characters may appear normal on the outside, their connection with each other is anything but.

9. Trespasses by Louise Kennedy – two communities collide

A photo of Louise Kennedy, a prominent Irish author, representing the excellence of Irish books of recent years.
Credit: Instagram / Louise.kennedyy

Set in Belfast in the mid-70s, Kennedy’s novel Tresspasses is set against the backdrop of car bombs, murders, and violence. But these are far from the only themes.

In Trespasses, Kennedy explores themes of identity, cross-community and intergenerational relationships, and infidelity.

8. Hearts & Bones: Love Songs for Late Youth by Niamh Mulvey – relationships in all their forms

A photo of Niamh Mulvey proudly holding her book 'Heart and Bones,' a notable addition to the landscape of Irish Books of Recent Years.
Credit: Twitter / Hodges Figgis

Mulvey is a striking new voice on the Irish literary scene. Hearts & Bones is a collection of eleven short stories published in 2022.

These may be love stories, but perhaps not in the traditional sense. The collection explores relationships in all their forms, be they platonic, familial, or romantic.

7. Small Things Like These by Claire Keegan – themes of religion and injustice

Green Leaves On Top Of Open Book Near Paint Brush And Green Snake Plant On Pot
Credit: Pexels / Photo by Alina Vilchenko

A crisp and moving novella, Small Things Like These explores themes of religion, abuse, and how society can so easily turn a blind eye to injustice. The book has been a huge critical success and won the Orwell Prize for Political Fiction in 2022.

Set during Christmas in a cold 1980s Ireland, Small Things Like These is undoubtedly one of the best Irish books of recent years.

6. This is Happiness by Niall Williams – a glimpse into a vanishing Ireland

Book Opened on White Surface Selective Focus Photography
Credit: Pexels / Photo by Caio

Niall Williams is a Booker Prize-longlisted author who released one of the best Irish books of recent years in 2020.

The story follows seventeen-year-old Noel and his unlikely friendship with the older character Christy. The book is set in the village of Faha, which is just getting connected to electricity.

5. When All Is Said by Anne Griffin – an elderly man ready to tell his story

Griffin’s 2019 novel When All Is Said follows an evening of reflection with an elderly Irish man named Maurice. He tells his story and gives a toast to five people who have made the most difference in his life.

At times sad, at times heartwarming, but this is a bittersweet story about a human life told in a memorable voice.

4. Prophet Song by Paul Lynch – a timely tale of war and persecution

Since its publication, much has been said of Paul Lynch’s Prophet Song, and for good reason. It’s a tense, claustrophobic read inspired by the ongoing refugee crisis worldwide. 

Set in a dystopian Dublin after the election of a far-right nationalist party, the novel is a meditation on the violence of war and totalitarianism.

3. The Wonder by Emma Donoghue – eerie and mysterious

A photo of Emma Donoghue, a celebrated Irish author whose works have graced the literary landscape of recent years, making significant contributions to the realm of Irish Books of Recent Years.
Credit: Flickr/ Writers’ Trust

Recently adapted into a haunting film starring Florence Pugh, Emma Donoghue’s 2016 novel is equally worth your time. 

Set in rural Ireland shortly after the famine, it follows the story of a young girl who stopped eating four months ago but has not starved. An English nurse is sent to investigate, and an eerie tale ensues. 

2. Milkman by Anna Burns – acclaimed for good reason

Although the city (and its characters) are left unnamed in Milkman, the setting of this critically acclaimed novel is unmistakably Belfast during the Troubles.

The place in the novel is as wounded and suspicious as the people who live there, and it offers a suitable backdrop to the understated but tense narrative that unfolds.

1. Foster by Claire Keegan – one of the best Irish books in recent years

A photo of Claire Keegan, an acclaimed Irish author whose works have left a mark on the literary landscape of recent years, perfect for exploring Irish Books of Recent Years.
Credits: Flickr/ Ian Oliver; Wikipedia Commons

Keegan is a master of the short story form. Within a limited number of pages, she builds an immediately recognisable world with memorable characters.

Foster follows the story of a young girl sent to spend the summer with an older couple to give her struggling family some respite. This book will stick with you long after you’ve read it.

There’s nothing quite like getting lost in the world of fiction, and World Book Day is a chance to do just that. 

We’ve barely scratched the surface of some of the great titles Irish authors have released recently, but hopefully, this will get you started. Happy reading!

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