Irish publishers worth getting behind

Staying In

Book review
Bríd Conroy

Did you know that an e-reader uses 50 times more fossil fuel to read a full book than it does to read a paper book by electric light?
This was just one of the many interesting facts I found out at the recently held Booksellers Association annual Conference in Dublin. The theme this year was sustainability, and by sustainability we mean the contribution bookshops make to the social aspects of our communities; bookshops as place-makers, bookshops contributing to the UN Sustainable Goal Number 11 of sustainable cities and communities.
There are currently 217 bookshops in Ireland, of which 135 are independently owned. There are 46 publishing companies in the country and 25 percent of book sales here are from these Irish publishing houses. It is more important than ever that we support those Irish 9ublishers.
‘Lenny’, written by Laura McVeigh, has just recently been published by Irish publisher New Island Books, and it is one to be proud of.
Reading ‘Lenny’ for me was like watching a play unfold in my mind’s eye. In many parts there are few characters. Lenny Lockheart is a ten-year-old boy in a small town in 2012 America, a town that is slowly being abandoned in 2012 by its residents.
A huge sinkhole caused by the work of chemical companies in the area is emitting dangerous fumes and poisoning the water supply. Lenny lives with his father and is looked after by Miss Julie and Lucy the librarian, when they become homeless.
Another timeline runs alongside this of a pilot who after having crashed in the desert in North Africa was nursed back to health by a nomadic tribe. Izil, the boy who rescued him, speaks of his longing to ‘know what was beyond the edge of the sand seas, to discover worlds different to his own’. The rescued pilot thinks about his life now as a burden to this tribe but in reality the burden that is life itself, that is love itself.
There is such longing and sadness in this story as the lives of all the characters are revealed to us. Lenny loves the stars and wants to be a pilot, an astronaut. Izil listens to his father sing the ‘tahengemmit’, a desert poem of love, longing and belonging. Miss Julie is staunch in her beliefs about doing the right thing in life. Lucy wants to helps Lenny’s dad find his way back to love again. Beauty and love emerge from the longing and sadness, as we share their lives briefly.
Lilliput Press, another Irish Publisher, also has two fabulous books by Irish authors coming out in April and May: ‘The Geometer Lobachevsky’, by Adrian Durcan and ‘The Written World’, by Kevin Power.
Durcan’s story is set in the 1950s and follows the mathematician Nikolai Lobachevsky, who ends up aiding Bord na Móna with a land survey. However, he is ordered back to Leningrad for ‘a special appointment’, which sends him into hiding on a small island in the Shannon Estuary.
Power’s new book of essays and reviews draws on his experience reviewing almost 350 books over the last decade. These pieces range from reviews of Susan Sontag to the meaning of Greta Thunberg, literary theory and apocalyptic politics. They seek to honour art and through art, the world itself. This is a book about writing and about Power’s growth as an artist and critic.
Supporting Irish publishers and authors is an important part of what we do in Tertulia Bookshop. And with such a wonderful pool of books, why wouldn’t we?

Bríd Conroy and her husband Neil Paul run Tertulia – A Bookshop Like No Other at The Quay, Westport.