Thursday, April 2, 2020

Ten top Irish gothic novels

Ruth Gilligan is a writer and academic from Dublin now based in the UK. She has published five books to date and was the youngest person ever to top the Irish Bestsellers’ List.

Her most recent novel, The Butchers, is set in 1996 during the BSE crisis and was published in March 2020.

At the Guardian, Gilligan tagged ten “Irish gothic” offerings from which she drew eerie inspiration for The Butchers, including:
The Butcher Boy by Patrick McCabe (1992)

The dysfunctional tale of Francie Brady – a border-town native growing up in the 1960s – is not for the fainthearted. We follow Francie from childhood (cue alcoholic father and suicidal mother), through to industrial school (cue abusive priests), all the way to working life in an abattoir (cue a lot of dismembered pig carcasses). A disturbing portrait of a disintegrating mind, The Butcher Boy gave rise to the phrase “bog gothic” and revealed the sordid realities that often lurked behind romanticised depictions of rural Ireland.
Read about the other entries on the list.

The Butcher Boy is on Ray French's top ten list of black comedies, Allen Barra's top twelve list of the best postwar Irish novels, Nick Brooks's top 10 list of literary murderers, Declan Burke's 2008 top ten list of Irish crime fiction, and Edward Hogan's top ten list of stories set outside the city.

--Marshal Zeringue