cover image The 32: An Anthology of Irish Working-Class Voices

The 32: An Anthology of Irish Working-Class Voices

Edited by Paul McVeigh. Unbound, $15.95 trade paper (304p) ISBN 978-1-80018-024-6

Novelist McVeigh (The Good Son) “showcase[s] the talent and experience of working-class lives” in this striking anthology. In “The Things I Had Forgotten—A Memoir,” Elaine Cawley Weintraub recalls “the overt anti-Irish prejudice” that swept through the U.K. in the 1980s, which made her “re-evaluate what it meant” to be Irish and working-class, while in “Improper,” Riley Johnston reflects on how the loaded question “What school did you go to?” signals “class and intellectual ability.” In “Finding Words,” Theresa Ryder writes of living in a book-free house with a father who loved stories but couldn’t read or write, and in “Working-Class Writing in Ireland Today: The 32 and Beyond,” Michael Pierse considers representation in the arts: “Only 12 per cent of those who enter the creative industries in the U.K. are from working-class backgrounds.” The collection’s strength is in its specificity—more than an assemblage of voices, this is about what it means to be a working-class writer in Ireland, and the constraints such writers face in their creative endeavors. As McVeigh writes, “Becoming a writer is often only possible because later financial independence has been achieved elsewhere first.” Fans of Kit de Waal’s Common People will want to give this a look. (Feb.)