Book Discussion Group

Fall 2023 – Spring 2024 Theme – “Latest and Greatest in Irish Literature”

Last year we considered the emergence of Irish literature, with readings that ranged from Jonathan Swift to G.B. Shaw. This coming year we are moving the other direction, asking you to consider the latest and greatest in contemporary Irish literature. We will be reading the most recent works and the prize-winning efforts by well-known authors. We have no Nobel Prizes for literature (the most recent was Seamus Heaney in 1995), but we begin with the Booker Prize winner for 2018, Milkman by Anna Burns.

We have narrowed a long list to eight titles, published between 2017 and 2023. In fact, we had so many good choices that we’ve asked the McClelland Library if we can plan a discussion for May. With the narrowed range of publication dates, we can think about movements and trends in contemporary Irish literature. For example, does Irish literature remain distinct, or is it becoming a part of European literature? Each month, we will consider a writer through this lens, but we will also be examining the same writer as an individual with a personal mission and a particular way of telling a story.

Below are the selections. Each month, a guide will be posted on the website page to prepare you for the discussion of the writer and the selected work.

joyce and mary

The Book Discussion Group at the McClelland Library is led by Dr. Joyce East (left), a retired professor of Irish Studies, and Mary Wilber (right), a retired librarian and former member of the Scottsdale Library Board. The group seeks to engage members of our community with the tradition and excellence of all forms of Irish Literature.

Schedule for Fall 2023 – Spring 2024

     September 30th – “Milkman” by Anna Burns (2018, novel) Study Guide

     October 28th – “Haven” by Emma Donoghue (2022, novel) Study Guide

     December 2nd – My Father’s House” by Joseph O’Connor (2023, novel) Study Guide

     January 27th – “Apeirogon” by Colum McCann (2022, novel) Study Guide

     February 24th – “The Searcher” by Tana French (2020, mystery novel) Study Guide

     March 23rd – “I Am, I Am, I Am” by Maggie O’Farrell (2017, memoir) Study Guide

     April 27th – “The Queen of Dirt Island” by Donal Ryan (2023, novel)Study Guide

     May 11th – “The Banshees of Inisherin” by Martin McDonagh (2022, screenplay) Study Guide


** Availability of texts: We’ve tried to be sensitive to the costs of these works and their availability, but you may want to find a “reading buddy” to share the costs. Most of these will be in local libraries, in bookstores (new and used) and available from on-line sources (Amazon, ABE Books, and Powell’s books). Amazon offers new, used, and Kindle editions for sale. Putting your title in the search engine will usually generate a series of sites for the book.

Meetings will be held in person in the Irish Cultural Center and McClelland Library Norton Conference Room at 10:30am.


Meeting Policy: All the meetings are scheduled for the McClelland Library (Norton Room). Masks are not required. If the City of Phoenix and the Irish Cultural Center change their safety protocols, we will comply. Our goal is to keep the group healthy and reading.

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