The Dirty Dust, by Máirtín Ó Cadhain

Among the many pleasures of being a book critic is that you receive in the mail all sorts of books you weren’t expecting. A recent novel I received is one of the most enjoyable, funniest, and most creatively profane books I have ever read: The Dirty Dust, a 1949 novel written in Irish by Máirtín Ó Cadhain. The book is now appearing in English for the first time, thanks to Yale University Press and a marvelous translation by Alan Titley.

dirtydustHow’s this for a premise: All of the characters in this novel, which is set during World War II, are dead and in their graves. You’d think that one’s resting place would bring peace, but not for this crowd. These folks can’t stop complaining: about the plot they were buried in and the neighbors they’re stuck with for eternity, the lack of crosses made of Connemara marble that would give their graves some class, the inheritances that will go to hated relatives instead of the dearly departed. Some of the complaints are trivial, but others concern weightier matters, including the Irish Republican Army and Hitler’s march across Europe.

It’s a great book. You should check it out. My full review is at Bookreporter.

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