Reviews in brief
FOR THE former Sinn Féin director of publicity and Republican News editor Danny Morrison, All the Dead Voices, (Mercier Press, £8.30 /12.95 euros pbk) marks the latest successful step on his journey from republican activist to creative writer.
The majority of these essays recall episodes involving departed family, friends and fellow activists, all whose lives, in various ways, have had a lasting impact on the writer.
It is a highly personal collection, which sheds light on how Morrison became involved in republican resistance as a young man in Belfast and on a number of important relationships in his life.
As the man responsible for coined the phrase ‘the Armalite and the ballot box’, it has been clear for some years that Morrison has a way with words. However, it was the first IRA ceasefire of 1994 and moves towards a political settlement, which finally provided him with the opportunity of becoming a full-time writer.
Judging by his efforts to date, while All the Dead Voices may be his latest literary offering, it’s unlikely to be his last.
Enda Delaney’s Irish Emigration since 1921 (Economic and Social History of Ireland, Dundalgan Press) is an interesting, though brief, overview of the subject.
Examining both the six and 26 counties, Delaney, a lecturer Queen’s University, Belfast, looks at the patterns, causes and consequences of emigration in a period when the main destination of Irish emigrants shifted from the United States to Britain.
Making use of recent research, he argues that a variety of social and economic factors — including the existence of established Irish networks and labour shortages in post-1945 Britain — combined with economic conditions at home and restrictions in access to the United States in the inter-war years to influence patterns and levels of emigration.
This slim volume includes a useful bibliography to aid further study.
The Derry Anthology edited by Sean McMahon (Blackstaff Press, £20 hbk), and a sister volume to Patricia Craig’s excellent Belfast Anthology published by Blackstaff in 1999, is a reading enthusiast’s delight.
A handsomely-produced book divided into 13 sections, it includes contributions from authors as diverse as St Colum Cille, William Makepiece Thackery, Thomas Carlyle, Nicholas Monserrat, Brendan Behan, Nell McCafferty, Eamonn McCann and Seamus Deane.
Each of the sections covers a broad ‘representational’ theme dealing with such topics as childhood experiences, recreational pastimes, working life and industry, visitors’ impressions, topography, religion and, inevitably, the experience of conflict and division.
While, as various contributions to this anthology demonstrate, the city and its people may not have impressed all who have come in contact with them, it’s unlikely that this collection will have a similar effect. A splendid collection which is both able to entertain and inform.
Published towards the end of last year, War Children by Gerard Whelan (O’Brien, £4.99, 6.95 euros pbk) is a collection of six short stories about six children who find themselves caught up in the war of independence.
Whelan, who has won several awards for his children’s fiction, including a Bisto Merit Award for his first novel Guns of Easter, writes primarily for younger readers. However, this should not deter those of more mature years as his well-crafted stories deserve to be read by a far wider audience.
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