Books on the Time of Trouble (2)

The fighting in Northern Ireland came to an end when it was clear that neither side would prevail and further killing was useless. The Northern Irish ended up with more independence than they had known, but they are still today subject to British rule.

You can read my review of Say Nothing at

The other book, Country: A Novel (HarperCollins-Custom House, due to be published October 1, 2019), is fiction. Its author is Northern Ireland native Michael Hughes who writes in the dialect of the region. Set in 1996, it tells of the ruminations among the rebels about whether to continue to fight the unionists and the British or to accept the outcome of the peace talks then underway—that is, to surrender rather than endure and inflict more bloodshed. Most of the characters are the Irish resisters.

Reading Country was a challenge. The Northern Irish dialect is filled with words and structures I had never come across before. In my review, I offer a sample of the vocabulary: “recce,” “oul,” “quare,” “scupper,” “spondulicks,” “bog,” “slag,” “gunk,” and “snog.” The word “wee” is used throughout to mean “little.” “Dacent” apparently means “decent; “thon” seems to mean “that” or maybe “yon.” In short, it took patience and a fair amount of detective work on my part to get through the text.

My review will appear coincident with the publication of the book later this year.

I ended up recommending both books. They both taught me history about the struggle in Northern Ireland. I’m a better man for knowing more.

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