“The Devil I Know” by Claire Kilroy (Ireland)
A thrilling novel of greed and hubris, set against the backdrop of a brewing international debt crisis. Told by Tristram, in the form of a mysterious testimony, “The Devil I Know” recounts his return home after a self-imposed exile only to find himself trapped as a middle man played on both sides – by a grotesque builder he’s known since childhood on the one hand, and a shadowy businessman he’s never met on the other… Read more
Summer Reading Reviews
The four shortlisted books for this year’s Summer Reading Group varied greatly in length, style of writing, and author’s experience from the seasoned writer to the relative newcomer. Our summer readers also noticed the recurrent presence in all four books of evil in its many forms! When it came time for voting, the choice for Best Summer Read 2013 was unanimous: “The Devil I Know”
“The Devil I Know” by Claire Kilroy (Ireland) is set in a future Dublin (2016) and looks back ten years to when the Celtic Tiger’s property bubble began to burst. Readers really enjoyed the story finding it the perfect light read for the summer. They found it funny, well written and liked the layout of the book as a courtroom interrogation. They felt the characters were well portrayed with clear voices and they could hear the Irish lilt with some of them. At times, they thought the plot was confusing and surreal, but they found it gripping. They said it read like a thriller.
“Status: Emo” by Eslam Mosbah (Egypt) is set in Cairo amongst a group of young adults addicted to Facebook, atheism and alternate realities. Readers found the story very modern and up-to-date. They described the stream of consciousness style of writing as both easy to read and hard to read. However, once they got into the story, they felt that it flowed well. Written in second-person narrative, they thought that it worked only because the book was relatively short. They found it hard to warm to any of the characters finding some of them self-important and annoying. They said it would make a good teenage read.
“The Village” by Nikita Lalwani (India) is set in an Indian village that is an open prison housing murderers, where a team of British journalists have come to make a documentary. Readers liked the media-related theme and felt it gave them insight into behind-the-scenes of filmmaking. They found the style of writing a bit laboured at times as if the author was trying too hard to be lyrical. They were unable to warm to the narrator finding her irritating and they found most of the other characters unlikeable too. They enjoyed the ending a great deal.
“The Dream of the Celt” by Mario Vargas Llosa (Peru) is a fictional biography of one of history’s most controversial characters, the Irish humanitarian Roger Casement. Readers found this book very interesting and enjoyed the 3 parts of the story, set in the Congo, Amazonia (Peru) and Ireland. They felt that it gave them a better understanding of the epoch and made them think about what they were taught in history at school. They found the style of writing heavy going, as there was too much discourse and not enough dialogue. They said it was not a good choice for a summer read, but it was excellent historical fiction.
Nicola’s Summer Reading list 2013
“The Village” by Nikita Lalwani (India)
“Status: Emo” by Eslam Mosbah (Egypt)
“The Devil I Know” by Claire Kilroy (Ireland) *
“The Dream of the Celt” by Mario Vargas Llosa (Peru)
* Best Summer Read