Let The Battle Of The Celts Begin
The battle between two Celtic nations is about to begin.
I’m not talking about the battle played out annually on the rugby pitch during the Six Nations Championship. I know it’s hard for some people to realise but there are other things in life beside rugby.
No this is a battle of words: a literary clash between Ireland and Wales. Those two nations go head to head in Reading Ireland Month hosted by Cathy @746books and Reading Wales Month (also known as Dewithon) hosted by Paula @BookJotter.
I love both of these reading events but their presence in the same calendar month presents a personal dilemma.
As a native born Welsh person of course I’m going to join in with Dewithon. It’s a glorious opportunity to celebrate local talent; talent that sadly gets overlooked too often by big publishing houses.
But I also have Irish blood in my veins through my great great grandparents so I feel I should also fly the fly for Irish authors.
But of course I don’t have unlimited time. So I’m going to have to be selective.
In the Welsh corner I have a large number of classics, many of them re-published by two of the nation’s independent presses: Honno and Parthian. I’m going to bet that most of the people reading this blog have never heard of the authors.
Two shown in the top of the photo are recent releases by Honno, autobiographies that celebrating the work of Margiad Evans. The others are books I’ve had on my shelves for many years, somehow never getting around to reading them. A Time to Laugh by Rhys Davies which is set in a coal-mining valley experiencing industrial unrest and social change, is the one calling most strongly to me at the moment.
The photo doesn’t tell the whole story because it shows only the paper versions. I tend to forget about all the e-books I also have which include works by contemporary authors like Bev Jones, Alis Hawkins and Emma Kavanagh.
Facing up to them from the Irish corner is this selection. Unlike their Welsh counterparts, most of the Irish authors in my shelves need no introduction.
Murdoch is an author I contemplate with some trepidation. I did enjoy her Booker-winning The Sea The Sea but I’ve tried a few of her other books and found them too hard to penetrate. Maggie O’Farrell is one of my favourite authors but this is the only one of hers I’ve not read so (probably foolishly) I’m thinking to save that for another day. Slammerkin I’m not sure about. It’s set in the late 1700s, relating the story of a young daughter from a poor family who is lured into prostitution at the age of 13 because she hungers for fine clothes and ribbons. After my most recent experience with historical fiction I’m a tad nervous about reading another one so soon. So it might come down to Strange Flowers by Donal Ryan, an author I’ve come to love over the last few years.
But of course all that could change when it comes to the point when my hand goes to the bookcase to pick a new book.
I wonder who will triumph: Ireland or Wales??
24 thoughts on “Let The Battle Of The Celts Begin”
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What a fun post!
I always want to join both events, too. Every year is different. However, it’s so much easier to find Irish writers than Welsh on my shelves and at my library.
The only book I’ve read above is After You’d Gone, which I really enjoyed.
I can sympathise Naomi. Some Welsh authors you should be able to find easily are Sarah Waters and Cynan Jones.
Yes, we definitely have Sarah Waters. And there is only one Cynan Jones from a different library system. I also just learned that Clare Mackintosh is from Wales – is that right?
I think she is English – born in Bristol. Sorry! Which Cynan Jones could you find??
Stillicide. But it’s an ILL, so it would take several weeks to get to me. Maybe I can remember to plan ahead next year! 🙂
I’m waiting for our library service to get me this book too. It’s taken them three weeks to get it from one branch to another yet theyre only five miles apart.
Our system can be surprisingly slow, too. Sometimes I want to offer to just go and pick it up myself! 🙂
It did occur to me to do that too!
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Hooray Iris Murdoch! It’s a romp, The Black Prince, and it’s the most like The Sea, The Sea, too, I think, in terms of the narrator. I hope you enjoy it, and you might want to pop to my review when you’re finished and link it, or I will pop a link in your review.
I can only ever manage to do one of these two per year off my TBR, which is how I do all challenges at the minute. Wales won this year with two by Richard King, both (one partly, one fully) about Wales and by a Welshman!
That O’Farrell book is really good. A truly haunting story with the main protagonist in a coma most of the book! Wow… you’ve got to read it.
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I’m a mod reader too, so not sure how successful I will be with these two reading challenges, but I read a Niall Williams last year and adored it so much, I plan to read another one this year.
My Welsh ancestry is more recent than my Irish, so I will be cheering for #TeamWales in this bout!
I love this post! So glad you can join in – I know it can be a pressure. I love Niall Williams and Donal Ryan but have yet to read Iris Murdoch. Enjoy!
You’re right, it indeed a dilemma. Although I have a few Irish novels on the TBR I probably won’t join in with Ireland, just because I read Ireland regularly anyway. But I have found an interesting Welsh author on the shelves, one that was shortlisted for the Booker in 2000… It’s called The Hiding Place by Trezza Azzopardi, a name which doesn’t sound very Welsh but she was born in Cardiff to a Maltese father and a Welsh mother. Wikipedia tells me that she’s written three other books as well. So count me in with that one!
I’ll have to see if I’ve anything suitable, as I would like to take part but really want to keep reading from the stacks!!
That’s how I’m approaching all the reading events this year – if I have something suitable on the shelves and I have the time, I’ll join in. But I’m not going to go buying anything new
Love it! Thank you so much, Karen. 😀
I loved Slammerkin, but then I’m a huge Donoghue fan. In the Welsh corner (my own) I really enjoy books by Bev Jones and Alis Hawkins. Happy reading, whether the books are by Irish or Welsh authors!
I’ve read only Room by her which was an extraordinary story and really well handled I thought
I’ll enjoy watching from the sidelines. I tend not to enjoy participating in challenges like this – too much pressure! But I do like observing from the side lines and letting the resulting reviews inform my own reading in the weeks and months after. Let battle commence!
I understand Margaret, I am cutting way back on reading events this year so I don’t get stressed by feeling all my reading is geared by books I chose for a specific purpose rather than letting my mood dictate
Slammerkin is an all-time fav of mine, I think you’re in good hands with Donoghue’s historical fiction. It can be a little graphic, lots of trigger warnings, not cozy by any means! But I love how gritty her books are. You have a lot of good choices though!