Short Stories, Irish literature, Classics, Modern Fiction and Contemporary Literary Fiction, The Japanese Novel and post Colonial Asian Fiction are some of my Literary Interests





Sunday, November 25, 2012

The Dancers Dancing by Eilis Ni Dhuibhne

The Dancers Dancing by Eilis Ni Dhuibhne (1998, 296 pages, 597 KB)
with an afterward by the author and a commentary by Declan Kiberd.

The Irish Quarter

The Dancers Dancing is the second novel by Eilis Ni Dhuibhne I have recently read.  I was crazy about her Fox, Swallow, Scarecrow and loved her short story "Trespass" so I was eager to read another of her novels.  

The Dancers Dancing fully lived up to the very high expectations I came to it with.   The central characters in the novel are all early teenage Irish girls.  I have three teenage daughters so this made the novel especially relevant for me.   The girls are all in attendance at a summer school in Donegal  to learn Irish.   Some of the girls are from Dublin and some from Derry, in Northern Ireland.   The girls board with families in Donegal.   

The wonder in this novel is in getting to know the girls.   We are with them on the bus ride to the school.  We gradually get to know them through their conversations with each other.   There are lots of great insights about class distinctions in Ireland and the feelings people from North Ireland and The Irish Republic have about each other.   The girls are just beginning to feel sexual impulses and we see them dealing with this.  We see the girls develop new relationships and become BFFs.  The beauty of the Donegal region of Ireland is very much in evidence.    There is lots of interesting details about the families of the girls

In his very illuminating after-note Declan Kiberd, whose Inventing Ireland is my go to book on Irish literature, explains the post colonial implications of the novel and the author in her very interesting after-word related her own experiences to those of the girls in the book.

Personally I liked Fox, Swallow, Scarecrow more but that is sort of like saying I liked Madame Bovary more than A Sentimental Education.  

I will begin reading more of her short fiction soon.  I hope Blackstaff Press will produce more Kindle editions of her work. 

Author Data


Éilís Ní Dhuibhne (1954, Dublin) is the author of eight novels, four in English and four in Irish.    She has a PdD from The National University of Ireland, focusing on the work of Chaucer as part of an oral tradition.    She has taught at the University College Dublin and was for many years a curator at The National library in Dublin.   She also teaches creative writing.   Her novel, The Dancers Dancing, was short listed for the 2000 Orange Prize.      She is very dedicated to preserving and promoting the Irish literary tradition.  





Please share your suggestion as to the best contemporary Irish novels


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