‘A Ghost in the Throat’ is a truly original read by poet and essayist, Doireann Ní Ghríofa. Described as an autofiction this eloquently written debut novel explores two women’s lives as one hunts down the other in a quest to piece together a dark romantic tragedy. If you enjoyed ‘Milkman’ by Anna Burns, this has to be your next Wild Card read.

Readability

★★★★★★★★★✰

Talkability

★★★★★★★★★★

Den scores

★★★★★★★★★✰

A GHOST IN THE THROAT

BY DOIREEAN NÍ GHRÍOFA

321 pages

Some books can not be placed in a genre and ‘A Ghost is the Throat’ is a truly original read by poet and essayist Doireann Ní Ghríofa. Described as an autofiction this eloquently written debut novel explores two women’s lives as one hunts down the other in a quest to piece together a dark romantic tragedy. It is unashamedly described ‘a female text’ and if you enjoyed ‘Milkman’ by Anna Burns which divides book clubs, this could be your best Wild Card choice of the new year.

In the 1700s Eibblín is an Irish noblewoman who on discovering her husband has been murdered, drinks handfuls of his blood and composes an extraordinary poem. This lament for her husband, Art Ó Laoghaire, has been described as one of the greatest poems ever written in Ireland. Our modern day storyteller is a young homemaker and an articulate academic, who whilst overcoming her own personal tragedy, takes us on her adventure to translate and unpick the widow’s story and her plight.

The writing is poetic and fresh. Doireann Ní Ghríofa has a modern approach to telling her story with a wonderful command of language weaving the two stories together. Rich and lyrical, the author’s prose is a joy to read with so many memorable passages, sentences and moments that you will want to bookmark.

In the Den we loved the author’s forensic mind and urgency used in her descriptions. ‘Everyday I fall to my elbows and beckon more crusts from under tables and high chairs, crawling through banana goo, yoghurt and crushed grape’. Her storytelling as a young mother resonated with us and we loved her reading of the lament and her superstitious mind.

It’s the perfect winter’s tale - dark, beautiful and exciting and no surprise to the Den to find it the recent winner of the Foyles Non-Fiction Book of The Year 2020. One for now!

And if you enjoyed the poetic depth of Ní Ghríofa's narrative you may enjoy Jon McGregor's novels. Now on RD's pile for '21! Watch this space.

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