northern ireland

    No Project, Plenty of Fear

    All through the Brexit debate, and after, people warned that it would cause problems in Northern Ireland. And now here we are:

    Loyalist paramilitary groups have told the British and Irish governments they are withdrawing support for the Good Friday agreement in protest at Northern Ireland’s Irish Sea trade border with the rest of the UK.

    – Rory Carroll in The Guardian, Brexit: loyalist paramilitary groups renounce Good Friday agreement

    Brexiters dismissed those concerns as fearmongering.

    I don’t know what the end result of this will be, but I can’t imagine it being good.

    Milkman by Anna Burns (Books 2019, 10)

    Anna Burns's Milkman alongside a lemon
    Anna Burns’s Milkman alongside a lemon

    This is not mainly a book about The Troubles; nor about religion or politics, though it is about all of those. It's a book, above all, about gossip and rumour and silence, and the harm that those can do to a person, to a society.

    The unique approach — no-one is named, almost no proper names appear — I found quite endearing. And far from obfuscating things, it many ways it makes the story easier to follow. Instead of having to remember whether Mary, Margaret or Roisin is the oldest sister, it's “first sister.” “Oldest friend;” “maybe-boyfriend.” Honestly, all books should be like this. Relationships are important, after all.

    Though you can also see it as a sly reference to the common complaint about living in small communities, that you're always someone's daughter, someone's brother — never yourself.

    Anyway, Booker Prize winner, and all. Dead good.