Friday, May 22, 2009
All Names Have Been Changed
Faber & Faber released Dublin novelist Claire Kilroy's excellent third novel, 'All Names Have Been Changed' last week. The novel is set in recession struck, dirty, gloomy, eighties Dublin and charts the course of a writing workshop attended by five embryonic writers and their hero, Glynn, an alcohol soaked, legendary Irish writer.
What makes this novel really exceptional is the joy in language and verbal playfulness that suffuses every page. There is a greater focus on the aesthetics of language here than most novelists display, possibly at a small expense to the strength of plot and characterisation, although it would be unfair to say the novel is shabby in those areas either. The result is a page turner, but not as we know it captain. I found myself turning the pages not so much in a rush to find out what happens next but because what is said, is said so well. Banville is an obvious influence here.
I really liked the constant stream of arch, dry humour - mostly affectionate but pointed mockery of the insecurities and delusions besetting writers and the creative process. There is a strong sense of place too, the novel veritably reeks of Dublin and that's down to more than the proliferation of Dublin street names. In time ANHBC may be regarded as part of the pantheon of fine Dublin novels taking its place alongside Doyle, Bolger, Plunkett, and Joyce. Certainly the added relevance the work gains by evoking an historic recession era Ireland as we find ourselves reeling again in a brand new trough should help it find the wide readership it most definitely deserves.
Here's the Irish times review and Irish Independent review