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A Ghost In The Throat
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A Ghost In The Throat

4.28  ·  Rating details ·  803 ratings  ·  112 reviews
A true original. In this stunningly unusual prose debut, Doireann Ni Ghriofa sculpts essay and autofiction to explore inner life and the deep connection felt between two writers centuries apart. In the 1700s, an Irish noblewoman, on discovering her husband has been murdered, drinks handfuls of his blood and composes an extraordinary poem. In the present day, a young mother ...more
Paperback, 326 pages
Published August 27th 2020 by Tramp Press
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Average rating 4.28  · 
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Nov 04, 2020 rated it it was amazing
It's hard to explain why I love this book as much as I do. It's unlike anything I've read in my life. And I finished it and smiled, like the fool that I am. So this is just to say: I so love this book. ...more
4.25/5. I really liked this, but didn't love it quite as much as I hoped I would unfortunately. The memoir portion of this was EXCELLENT, 10/10, amazing, but I didn't care that much about the research the author does on the poet living in the 1700s. Doireann Ní Ghríofa didn't really manage to convey exactly why she was so obsessed with Eibhlín Dubh (at least I didn't fully get it) and even though I did think the parallels between the two were interesting, I just didn't find that aspect of the bo ...more
Eoin Mulligan
Jul 14, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Once every few years, a book will come along, take me gently by the hand and say “this is where you need to be”. A Ghost in the Throat is exactly that kind of book.

Doireann has achieved something wholly original here. Stitching together a number of genres, AGITT tells the stories of two women; Eibhlín Dubh Ní Chonaill and Doireann Ní Ghríofa herself. Tracing Eibhlín through her murky past, Doireann does so much more than map her life, she embraces it, mystery and all. At the same time Doireann
There once was a woman who fell in love with a poem.

So begins a mini essay written for the Irish Times by the author Doireann Ní Ghríofa describing her almost life-long obsession with the Caoineadh Airt Uí Laoghaire, (The Keen for Art O’Leary), an epic Gaelic lament, published in 1773 by Eibhlín Dubh Ní Chonaill, upon learning of the brutal murder of her much desired husband, whose unborn child she carried.

In A Ghost In My Throat, she puts aside the documents and transcripts and in compelling, o
This is a female text

I honestly don't think I have the right type of critical, analysing mind to talk about this book properly in the way it deserves but all I can say is, it's a masterpiece.

In this book Doireann Ní Ghríofa outlines her own life and identity as a young mother who becomes enthralled with the mystery of Eibhlín Dubh - the author of Caoineadh Airt Uí Laoghaire. Who she was before she became the wife and widow of Art, and what became of her after his death. She disappears from his
Aug 24, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: irish-lit, memoir, essay
In 1773, Eibhlín Dubh Ní Chonnail composed her famous poem, The Keen For Art Ó Laoghaire. This thirty-six stanza poem, composed in Irish and handed down in the oral tradition, is a lament following the murder of her husband, Art. Doireann Ní Ghríofa is a bilingual poet, and A Ghost in the Throat includes both the Irish text of the poem and Ní Ghríofa’s translation. It is an astonishing poem, full of raw emotion, drama and vivid imagery, describing Eibhlín’s infatuation with Art, her marriage to ...more
Joachim Stoop
Sep 29, 2020 rated it really liked it
If not for the unmistakable recommendation by a GR/FB- friend and avid reader, I would not have given this a chance, let alone making it jump to the top of my astronomical To Read-pile. The combination of a slightly gotic, slightly historical, a bit esoteric and abundantly poetic mixture doesn't immediately trigger my reading appetite. But I did love the book in the end and am glad I have read it. I admire the huge effort she's put in the language and in making a statement in praise of women and ...more
Caoimhe White
Oct 30, 2020 rated it it was amazing
I am so sad to be parting ways with this book tonight, and would almost read it again immediately just to keep its voice with me.

I had so many moments of stopping and re-reading passages just to try to take in their beauty. It's lyrical, personal, and unique; you feel that Doireann was put on Earth to write this!
David Butler
Apr 10, 2020 rated it really liked it
This is a fascinating read. At its simplest level, it's an account of the narrator's obsession with the 'lost' figure of Eibhlín Dubh ní Chonaill, author of the great eighteenth century lament, Caoineadh Airt Uí Laoghaire. The book (a novel?) is, insists the author, a 'female text'.
In part it is a kind of conjuration, a (non-academic) attempt to summon up Eibhlín Dubh's ghost so as to re-inscribe her into the history from which she has largely been erased, except in her relationship to male fig
Nov 01, 2020 rated it it was amazing
2020 is definitely the year I read a lot of novels about motherhood but Doireann Ní Ghríofa’s prose debut takes it to new territories.

The narrator, who I am assuming is the author is in the process of pumping breast milk when she remembers the Ebhlín Ní Choniall’s poem Caoineadh Airt Uí Laoghaire (The Keen for Art Ó Laoghaire) which she had to study at school. This flicker of memory sets the narrator to investigate Ebhlín Ní Choniall’s roots ; her family tree, life, background and relationship w
Susan Lanigan
Sep 03, 2020 rated it it was amazing
"This is a female text"

Not the better after reading that - had to do it slowly. An intersection between biography, autobiography, poetry and historical fiction that defies neat categorisation but lingers in the heart with so many vivid scenes. I was there in the dissection room, the old woman's house, the hospital, Art's burial place. Hook up that tragic love into my veins as well as that deep dive into motherhood.

An absolute masterpiece - well done to Doireann ni Griofa and Tramp Press for brin
Nov 12, 2020 rated it it was amazing
"This is a female text."

Only a handful of books ever have caused me to stop mid-chapter, take a breath, and let what's being said fully sink into my heart. This happened constantly throughout this book. Each sentence seems master-crafted, while telling of the heartbreak, the sacrifice, the erasure of womanhood, through the author's painstaking research into an ancient Irish poem. Tentatively calling it my book of the year.
Dec 28, 2020 rated it it was amazing
I savoured every page. It's written and structured so beautifully, exploring and meandering through different directions in a way that felt so heartfelt and instantaneous even while being so clearly (and wonderfully) considered and crafted. It captured so many of the twinges of attachment I've felt when researching people long-dead and threw em all down in glowing prose, basking in the many different and parallel shades of female experience. Yeah baybi. ...more
Cinzia DuBois
Dec 30, 2020 rated it it was ok

I genuinely feel so awful for not liking this book because Doireann is clearly a very lovely and talented writer. I can sense she is such a sweet and genuine person while reading this book with so much talent and determination.

However, I’m afraid I found no drive or purpose to keep reading it as I didn’t connect with the narrative voice. I never felt connected or inspired, and I never knew why I should want to be on this journey, nor was I engaged in it.

It’s such a shame though, because my lac
John Braine
Nov 17, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is the latest zeitgeist Irish book of the moment in Ireland, a phenomenon that happens quite often where everyone seems to be reading the same book at the same time and talking about how amazing it is, on Irish Book Twitter at least. And it is an amazing book.

There are some things that you just can't learn on a writing course. Here's one of them: some people are just incredibly cool and have a fascinating outlook and life, and then manage to get that onto the page. You can learn that latte
Dec 28, 2020 rated it really liked it
So beautiful!
Bart Van Overmeire
I finished the best book of 2020. Soon, too soon.
Dec 29, 2020 rated it it was amazing
This imaginative book combines essay about the life and work of Eibhlín Dubh Ní Chonaill, an 18th century Irish poet who composed the keen for Art O’Leary, and autofiction about the author Ní Ghríofa’s life. It explores themes of shared female experiences and the erasure of female lives and voices, both historically and in the modern world. Both Eibhlín Dubh’s poem and Ní Ghríofa’s novel are a caoineadh - a keen, a dirge, a lament. Eibhlín’s for her murdered husband, Ní Gríofa’s for Eibhlín, but ...more
Niall O'neill
Nov 20, 2020 rated it it was amazing
This is a unique and wonderful book, which defies easy categorisation. It’s an autobiographical account of the writer’s obsession with Eibhlin Dubh Ni Chonaill, an 18th century Irish poet, and her work Caoineadh Airt Ui Laoghaire. We see the world through the writer’s mind, as a mother, living a typically 21st century urban life (“first I feed our sons, then fill the dishwasher”), to her imagined senses from Eibhlin’s life: “I let the gravel become a kitchen floor and make the room around me bus ...more
Emma Flanagan
Oct 25, 2020 rated it it was amazing
An impossible book to describe or explain to anyone. An exploration of a female text through beautiful prose which reflects the writers poetic skill.
Emily O’Dowd
Nov 01, 2020 rated it it was amazing
The best book I have read all year. Now that I've devoured it in whatever spare time I had, I'm going to have to go back and pull out all the incredibly beautiful quotes.

Read it.
Dec 15, 2020 rated it liked it
I love the premise of the book; the idea of weaving her own life experiences with those of a poet whom she admires with the aim of uncovering the truths and realities of women which have been concealed in history really appealed, but the delivery didn't quite work (for me anyways). For a book that seems to be about connection, it felt quite disjointed and the links between her own life and Eibhlín Dubhs were not quite solid enough for the book to read seamlessly. For that reason, I felt it was p ...more
Erin Darcy
Sep 30, 2020 rated it it was amazing
An absolutely stunning piece. I cannot turn a page without stopping to read and re-read a line or paragraph, willing it to sink into my bones. The rhythm and ways Doireann weaves her life, poetry, history, women all together - all of the intrinsic ways of being and living, with birth and blood and love and death. Ugh, my heart. This is not just a female text, this is a sacred text. This is holy. This book is visceral, ancestral, alchemy. Something I have never ever experienced with reading a boo ...more
Sep 19, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Doireann Ní Ghríofa's A Ghost in the Throat is an almost impossible one to categorize, and was as equally almost impossible to put down. In part a memoir of her life as an Irish woman, literary artist, and a mother, A Ghost in the Throat is also the story of Ní Ghríofa's search to research and translate a poem that she first encountered in school, Caoineadh Airt Uí Laoghaire, which was written by a noblewoman named Eibhlín Dubh Ní Chonaill in 1700’s rural Ireland. This is also a book about femal ...more
Jamie Pacton
Dec 27, 2020 rated it it was amazing
“This is a female text…”

And so starts A GHOST IN THE THROAT, the most surprising, beautiful, breathtaking, visceral, feminist, badass book I’ve read this year. What a ride this book was. It’s about female bodies; female texts (written, sung, lived, burned, bled); invisible labor; motherhood; loss; fear; the ways women have been erased in male stories/histories/rooms/spaces; and, one woman’s deep dive into another long-dead poetess’ life. It’s also about breastfeeding/caregiving and the very lite
Dec 15, 2020 rated it it was amazing
I am hesitant to give this 5 stars as it wouldn't necessarily be a book I will tell everyone they have to read, like my usual 5 star rated reads. But I couldn't give it any less as it is so beautifully written and so different to anything I've read before.

The author somehow manages to tell the true story of an old poem, her obsession with both the poem and the characters real lives, whilst describing her day to day life as a woman and mother. It's just a very unusual way of story telling, yet n
Aine Palmer
Jan 09, 2021 rated it it was amazing
this beautiful little book managed to exceed my already high expectations ! despite all of the (well-deserved) hype, i possibly approached it a little skeptically, thinking myself tired of autofiction. but though this book certainly bears resemblance to many others (maggie nelson, sinead gleeson, emilie pine, &c &c) it doesn't feel like bland repetition at any point. it is probably a testament to the books capaciousness that i felt it resonated so strongly with me. ní ghríofa writes so poeticall ...more
Aoife McMenamin
Nov 19, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I’m not even sure how to describe this book but it’s beautifully written, and so evocative of new motherhood and those early days that go by in a blur with young children. I couldn’t identify a genre myself, it’s so unusual, but I’ve seen it described as a mix of auto-fiction and non-fiction. It’s the author’s own story of her obsession with a poem written by an 18th century Irish woman named Eibhlín Dhubh Ní Chonaill, by the name of Caoineadh Art Uí Laoghaire (Lament for Art O’Leary), combined ...more
Derval Tannam
3.5 stars. I found the essay style sections of this book offputting at times, but overall it was very readable. The focus on motherhood, and breastfeeding in particular, and how the author felt it gave them meaning/worth alienated me slightly, but I thoroughly enjoyed the sections on her research and the facts and speculation about Eibhlin's life. The author continually reminds us that women are removed from texts and thus from history to a certain extent. I'll probably read it again at some poi ...more
Mairead  Mulcahy
Sep 26, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 20-for-2020
This book is lovely and reads like poetry, which should come as no surprise as the author is actually a poet anyway.
Be warned, however, that in reading it, a little bit of a 'wandering through the Celtic Twilight of the mind' is needed. I enjoyed the descriptive passages; they were pretty visceral and sensual in places.
Altogether this is a Recommend but with the proviso that you're not going to be reading a straight narrative.
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