Des Kenny's family has run bookshops in Galway since 1940 and there’s little wonder that he has literally written a book on what Irish books to read.
“Kennys Choice: 101 Irish Books You Must Read” comes from a man who has over 75 years' experience in book sales and this list, in his words, are books that demand to be read. From J.M. Synge to Maeve Binchy to Patrick Kavanagh to William Butler Yeats, as our own columnist Cahir O’Doherty said the list is "as enjoyable to read as it is to refer to.!
Here are Kenny’s top ten choices:
1. The Aran Islands by J.M. Synge
“Playwright Synge visited an isolated group of islands west of Ireland, where he found inspiration for his dramas among the folklore and anecdotes told to him by locals. This memorable record of Synge's days amid the islanders and their tales of fairies and Celtic heroes offers an enchanting portrait of Irish cultural renaissance.”
2. Woodbrook by David Thomson
“Woodbrook is a rare house that gives its name to a small, rural area in Ireland, not far from the old port of Sligo. In 1932 David Thomson went there as a tutor. He stayed for ten years.”
3. Puckoon by Spike Milligan
“Puckoon is Spike Milligan's classic slapstick novel, reissued for the first time since it was published in 1963.”
4. Home Before Night by Hugh Leonard
“A tour de force of prose which captures all the poetry and drama of a child's experience of Dublin in the 30s and 40s. The author's crystal-clear recollections, recounted with sparkling humor and immediacy, and the vast array of colorful characters, combine to create an engaging and enthralling read.”
5. The Heather Blazing by Colm Tóibín
“Colm Tóibín’s second 'lovely, understated' novel that 'proceeds with stately grace' (The Washington Post Book World) about an uncompromising judge whose principles, when brought home to his own family, are tragic.”
6. The Big Chapel by Tom Kilroy
“Part of the Liberties Irish Classics series, this novel depicts life in an Ireland subject to clerical power, an image which still resonates today.”
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7. The Ikon Maker by Desmond Hogan
“The Ikon Maker is Desmond Hogan's first novel, written in 1974 when he was twenty-three and first published in 1976.”
8. Waiting for Godot by Samuel Beckett
“'Waiting for Godot' is an absurdist play by Samuel Beckett, in which two characters, Vladimir and Estragon, wait endlessly and in vain for the arrival of someone named Godot.”
9. The Hard Road to Klondike by Micí Mac Gabhann
Micí Mac Gabhann was a seanchaí and memoirist from the County Donegal Gaeltacht. He is best known for his posthumously published emigration memoir 'Rotha Mór an tSaoil' (1959), translated as 'The Hard Road to Klondike.'
10. Like Any Other Man by Patrick Boyle
Boyle was born in 1905 in Ballymoney, Co. Antrim. He worked for the Ulster Bank in Donegal and Wexford. He began writing when he was in his forties. His first collection of short stories, At Night All Cats are Grey, was published in 1966. He also wrote a novel, 'Like Any Other Man,' published in the same year. These two books were followed by two more collections of stories, 'All Looks Yellow to the Jaundiced Eye' (1969), and 'A View from Calvary' (1976). He was a member of the Irish Academy of Letters. He died in 1982.
You can read read more about the list here: www.kennys.ie.
The book, “Kennys Choice: 101 Irish Books You Must Read,” includes novels, plays, poetry, memoir, history and travelogues, “written in the past two centuries by Irish writers or by foreign writers on Irish topics.”
The book was written as a “celebration of the twenty years of Kenny’s Book Club and a tribute to his parents Des and Maureen Kenny as well as to authors, publishers, booksellers and book-lovers everywhere.”
H/T: Google Books.