Books

Top 5 books by contemporary Northern Irish writers

From Trespasses to Dance Move, Northern Irish native Elaine Canning selects some great novels from her home country

Belfast

Belfast, the Northern Irish capital. Photo: K. Mitch Hodge/Unsplash

Belfast-born novelist Elaine Canning, author of The Sandstone City, chooses her favourite books by contemporary Northern Irish writers.

1. Travelling in a Strange Land by David Park

An intensely moving, mesmerising novel about a father’s road trip from Belfast to Sunderland to bring his sick son home. Memories, imaginings, guilt and heartache swerve and brake in evocative prose. 

2. The Fire Starters by Jan Carson

A wondrous and thrilling depiction of a city on fire and the sacrifice and struggles of the people who inhabit it, this dark, magical novel burns bright long after its final pages have been consumed.

3. Trespasses by Louise Kennedy

Set in 1970s Belfast against the backdrop of The Troubles, this is a beautifully observed, perfectly paced, heart-wrenching novel about love, loyalty, suffering and survival. An exquisite, devastating read.

4. Intimacies by Lucy Caldwell

This breathtaking collection of short stories on the lives of young women beats with honesty and empathy. Includes the 2021 BBC National Short Story Award-winning All the People Were Mean and Bad and ends with the stunning title story.

5. Dance Move by Wendy Erskine

A brilliant collection of stories brimming with humour, energy and tenderness. From Roberta and the child in the opening story Mathematics, to Linda and Rae in Secrets Bonita Beach Krystal Cancun, Erskine’s characters, young and old, will cling to your heart in storytelling at its finest. 

Elaine Canning’s The Sandstone City

You can buy The Sandstone City from The Big Issue shop on bookshop.org, which helps to support The Big Issue and independent bookshops.

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