Kevin on Gavin: One Irish writer reviews another

this-is-the-way-gavin-corbettKevin Barry, one of the rising stars of the Irish literary scene, had his say on another of the younger crop of Irish writers, Gavin Corbett, in the pages of the Guardian this morning.

I’ve always held a slight fascination for writers’ reviews of other writers – the thoughts of a critic might be easily (or perhaps more accurately, more easily) dismissed but those of a fellow writer, especially one you might admire, must be almost impossible to ignore.

This, I imagine, is especially true if you’re not yet on an established footing. The John Banville excoriation of Ian McEwan a few years back, when he described McEwan’s Saturday as “a dismayingly bad book”, springs to mind, but the fact of the matter was that Banville and McEwan – one a Booker Prize winner, the other on his way to the same award a few months after writing that review – were already on solid ground as novelists of renown. While a different hue of light may have shone on them as a result, their reputations were unlikely to suffer catastrophically.

It’s a different story when you’re waiting for the big breakthrough, when a positive or a negative review from a respected contemporary might have make-or-break possibilities for an entire career.

Corbett, then, could be forgiven if he heaved a sigh of relief this morning; Barry’s review of the book – about a Traveller called Anthony Sonaghan told in first person idiosyncratic local dialect – is, on the whole, a positive one.

A sly and lovely humour dominates … The streets of contemporary Dublin, somehow both drab and gaudy, are sketched with great relish and skill … This is memorable work from a gifted writer whose next moves we should await with very keen interest

You can read Kevin Barry’s review of Gavin Corbett’s new novel, This Is The Way, here.

This Is The Way is published by 4th Estate

Update: Gavin Corbett has written about the origins of the narrative voice over on the 4th Estate blog


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