This is the first book about the literature of the Irish in London. By examining over 30 novels, short stories and autobiographies set in London since the Second World War, London Irish Fictions investigates the complex psychological landscapes of belonging and cultural allegiance found in these unique and intensely personal perspectives on the Irish experience of migration. As well as bringing new research to bear on the work of established Irish writers such as Edna O’Brien, John McGahern, Emma Donoghue and Joseph O’Connor, this study reveals a fascinating and hitherto unexplored literature, diverse in form and content. By synthesising theories of narrative and diaspora into a new methodological approach to the study of migration, London Irish Fictions sheds new light on the ways in which migrant identities are negotiated, mediated and represented through literature. It also examines the specific role that the metropolis plays in literary portrayals of migrant experience as an arena for the performance of Irishness, as a catalyst in transformations of Irishness and as an intrinsic component of second-generation Irish identities. Furthermore, by analysing the central role of narrative in configuring migrant cultures and identities, it reassesses notions of exile, escape and return in Irish culture more generally. In this regard, it has particular relevance to current debates on migration and multiculturalism in both Britain and Ireland, especially in the wake of an emerging new phase of Irish migration in the post-‘Celtic Tiger’ era.
Reviews'A rich, sympathetic and nuanced exploration of that strange blend of exile and escape, of suffering and play-acting, which characterises the Irish migrant experience in London [...] a valuable, unprecedented and necessary book.'
'London Irish Fictions is the first book that looks at literature of the Irish in London, and makes a valuable contribution to Irish diaspora studies more generally. Murray’s analysis of the role of narrative in shaping diasporic identities is masterly, and sheds new light on representations of exile, escape and belonging in the diasporic experience. A highly enjoyable and recommended read.'
Louise Sheridan, Estudios Irlandeses
'Murray’s book makes its own powerful contribution in a study of Irish literary relationships with London that breaks new and important ground by furthering conversations about the keen significance of migration to Irish literary culture. London Irish Fictions is an elegantly written, compelling, and generous book that makes an invaluable contribution to understanding Irish and diasporic literary culture in the twenty-first century.'
Irish Studies Review
'A new book, London Irish Fictions: Narrative, Diaspora and Identity, by Tony Murray, presents a fascinating story of the Irish immigrants, many of whom dug the roads, worked in the National Health Service or engaged in the arts.'
Camden New Journal
'A landmark study of that most essential aspect of being Irish, the experience of it outside of Ireland itself. [...] A most handsome book, with a wonderful cover, both inside and outside Irish Studies, for the student or curious poet, this is clearly a foundation text. Hats off.'
'This excellent new study ... London Irish Fictions is both a pioneering and imperative study.
... [Murray] locates a compelling point of synthesis between the work of Avtar Brah on “diaspora space” and that of Paul Ricoeur on “narrative identity” which allows him to account for a multitude of ways of defining, describing and explaining the experience of being both Irish and an inhabitant of London. ... The volume is impressive in its discussion of the variety of experiences and viewpoints that these texts display.
... Absorbing and necessary.'
Whitney Standlee, The Brazilian Journal of Irish Studies
'An important contribution to a number of areas: Irish studies, diaspora and migration studies, and the study of the literature of London.'
Years Work in English Studies