The Queen of Dirt Island

Viking. Feb. 2023. 256p. ISBN 9780593652930. $27. F
Beginning at the end and ending with a bright beginning, this latest offering from award-winning Irish novelist Ryan (Strange Flowers; The Spinning Heart) is a broad-sweeping, satisfying family saga. It is a story of stories. The generations of Aylward women of Nenagh, County Tipperary, are tenacious and fiercely loyal. They have survived famine, death, poverty, gun-runners, and men who are either dead or useless and all the while have ignored the whispers of their neighbors. As granddaughter Saoirse navigates teenage pregnancy and a bitter family rift over a potential land grab, deep family darkness and suffering are revealed. Can Saoirse mature fast enough to survive this turbulence? Her future and that of her daughter could be in real peril from the pain wrought by people on the periphery of their lives.
VERDICT This could be an incredibly sad story were it not for Ryan’s ability to infuse the irony of Irish humor into its darkest corners. Light glimmers just as the story fades to black. His expert storytelling and the strength and resilience of his characters make this so much more than just another Irish family saga. Highly recommended.
Comment Policy:
  • Be respectful, and do not attack the author, people mentioned in the article, or other commenters. Take on the idea, not the messenger.
  • Don't use obscene, profane, or vulgar language.
  • Stay on point. Comments that stray from the topic at hand may be deleted.
  • Comments may be republished in print, online, or other forms of media.
  • If you see something objectionable, please let us know. Once a comment has been flagged, a staff member will investigate.



We are currently offering this content for free. Sign up now to activate your personal profile, where you can save articles for future viewing