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Dermot Bolger Biography

(1959– ), The Bright Wave/An Tonn Gheal, logainmeacha, The Woman's Daughter

dublin irish ireland finglas

Irish novelist, playwright, poet, and publisher, born in Finglas, north Dublin, educated at Beneavin College, Finglas. As editor of The Raven Arts Press in Dublin, Bolger was responsible for the production of an important anthology of contemporary poetry written in the Irish language, The Bright Wave/An Tonn Gheal (1986). He is committed to the publication of work which reinterprets the history of modern Ireland by unveiling the failure of its political ideals and the lies of its ‘economic miracle’, a commitment reflected in his own writing. His metaphors are frequently derived from the details of local history and the origin of logainmeacha (place-names), such as the hidden ‘crystal stream’ of Finglas in his novel The Woman's Daughter (1987; revised 1991). Bolger's poetry, collections of which include Never A Dull Moment (1978), The Habit of Flesh (1980), Finglas Lillies (1981), No Waiting America (1982) and Internal Exiles (1985), is thematically significant in revealing the genesis of his concern, in his fiction and drama, with deprived urban Dublin, emigration, and the tragedy of Ireland's ‘internal exiles’. His novels Night Shift (1985) and The Woman's Daughter invert the traditional view of the Irish as exiles by portraying the plight of people living in Ireland, who have been politically and economically excluded from their own country. The Journey Home (1990), a thriller, also incorporates an attack on political corruption, a prediction of the implications of Ireland's membership of the European Community, and a portrayal of exile as a smokescreen which has served successive Irish Governments in distracting attention from the problems at ‘Home’. Emily's Shoes (1992) is an intensely introspective narrative of a young Irish shoe-fetishist searching for identity in a sordid Dublin environment; the novel was praised for the spare clarity of its prose and brilliant eye for detail. In Second Life (1994), a conflation of ghost story and detective fiction, the protagonist, adopted as a child, loses his identity after a car crash and goes in search of himself and his background through layers of personal and ancestral memory. Bolger's first play, The Lament for Arthur Cleary (1989), transposes an old story of injustice and murder from its original setting of Ireland during the Penal Laws, to contemporary Dublin. The play is characteristic of Bolger's use of the past and the present to create palimpsests of meaning and was included, together with The Tramway End (1990), The Holy Ground (1991) and One Last White Horse (1991) in A Dublin Quartet (1992). Bolger edited The Picador Book of Irish Contemporary Fiction (1993).

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