Intelligence, Wit and Social Engagement: Caoilinn Hughes' Best Books By Women

I’m not sure that a person can be evangelical enough about good books. On a recent trip home to Ireland, I mentioned Booker Prize-winning Eleanor Catton’s The Luminaries to some bookish friends, only to be asked, ‘Who?’ I raved about T.S. Eliot Award-winner Sinead Morrissey’s poetry (my favorite collection is The State of the Prisons), only to be asked, ‘What do you call her again?’ There is never enough media coverage of momentous books, never mind all the other wonderful quiet ones.

So my fiction recommendations are both for novels by highly acclaimed writers – Anne Enright’s The Gathering won the Booker in 2007, and Marilynne Robinson is a Pulitzer Prize winner for her novel Gilead. Just in case you needed one extra person to say, ‘You’d love these books!’ The poetry recommendations have in common with each other intelligence, wit and social engagement. They welcome the reader, and challenge her. Shapcott deals in mortality, deftly; Groarke in (resisting) change and estrangement.


Marilynne Robinson

From the publisher:

From the Orange Prize winning author of Home Acclaimed on publication as a contemporary classic, Housekeeping is the story of Ruth and Lucille, orphansgrowing up in the ...

Of Mutability

Jo Shapcott

From the publisher:

Jo Shapcott’s award-winning first three collections, gathered in Her Book: Poems 1988-1998, revealed her to be a writer of ingenuous, politically acute and provocative ...

The Gathering

Anne Enright

From the publisher:

Winner of the Man Booker Prize The nine surviving children of the Hegarty clan gather in Dublin for the wake of their wayward brother Liam. It wasn’t the drink that killed ...