Baiten into us


Sinéad Gleeson asked a bunch of writers and artists to nominate a book that defines Ireland, an alternative to Tom Garvin and Bryan Fanning’s list. We picked Aidan Higgins.

There’s an unfair criticism that modernism never came to Ireland and that writers are stuck in the past. Aidan Higgins is a good counter to that. Langrishe, Go Down is one of the best Irish novels since At Swim-Two- Birds, and Higgins is a missing link from Joyce to contemporary writing. It’s a novel on the death of a country house, and of a love affair, and although a particularly Irish novel (from the “sickly sweetish smell of Guinness’s porter” and through the language, “the dear Lord knows we had it baiten into us often enough”), it has enough going for it to appeal to a wider audience.