The Best of Contemporary Irish Fiction, recommended by Liz Nugent

Bestselling author Liz Nugent, whose latest novel Our Little Cruelties is out now, talks to Five Books about the Irish writers that have been taking the world by storm in recent years—as she selects five unmissable recent works of Irish contemporary fiction, including books by Anne Enright and Sebastian Barry.

The Best Samuel Beckett Books, recommended by Mark Nixon

Samuel Beckett remains one of the most significant writers of the twentieth century. Ruthlessly experimental, his plays, novels, and poems represent a sustained attack on the realist tradition. Dr Mark Nixon looks at the mutating nature of Beckett’s literary style and explains why he didn’t choose Waiting for Godot.

The best books on Irish Unionism, recommended by Murray Pittock

As is the norm in many countries with proportional representation, the United Kingdom’s government depends on a small political party to stay in power. Who are the Irish unionists? What is the ideology that guides them? Historian and pro-vice principal of Glasgow University, Murray Pittock, recommends the best books to read to better understand Irish unionism.

The best books on Oscar Wilde, recommended by Sos Eltis

Oscar Wilde cultivated an image of himself as an idle genius, dashing off masterpieces with a lazy brilliance. But below the glittering linguistic surface of his works, suggests Sos Eltis, lies an anarchic politics and a phenomenal analysis of power.

The best books on Modern Irish History, recommended by Richard Bourke

A “powerful and aggravating absence of consensus” came to define the Irish political experience, says the historian Richard Bourke. Here he picks the best books for gaining a range of perspectives on Irish history, singling out James Joyce as offering insight into the divergence of nationalist opinion.

The best books on The Troubles, recommended by Timothy Knatchbull

In August 1979, Timothy Knatchbull and his family went out in a boat off the coast of Ireland. Neither his grandparents or his twin brother would return from the IRA bomb attack that shocked Britain and the world. Here he talks about books that helped him better understand ‘the Troubles,’ and his own book, From a Clear Blue Sky, about his own journey to come to terms with that happened that bank holiday weekend.

The best books on The Celts, recommended by Simon Young

Writer and Dark Age historian delves into five books on Celtic history, and talks about the challenge of separating history from legend. One priority for any Dark Age historian, he says, is “to avoid these awful bogs”