Nessa O’Mahony is a Dublin-born writer. She has published five books of poetry and is a recipient of three literature bursaries from the Arts Council. She was Writer Fellow at the John Hume Institute for Global Irish Studies in UCD in 2008 / 09. The Branchman (Arlen House 2018) was her debut crime novel and she is working on a sequel. Her most recent book is a poetry collection, The Hollow Woman on the Island, published by Salmon Poetry 2019. Website Twitter Facebook
What book(s) are you reading right now?
I'm currently reading Sarah Moss's Ghost Wall, having heard her speak about it at this year's Ennis Book Club Festival. It's a fabulously forensic exploration of a certain attitude that has been causing a great deal of mischief in the world recently: an atavistic belief that old ways were better and an utter failure to empathise with other human beings. My second copy of Hilary Mantel's new book The Mirror & The Light is also waiting for me (the first copy I gave to my sister who is currently in lock-down having come back to Ireland from the UK). I'm just realising that if this is read several months from now, people may have forgotten why that was necessary!
A book you loved reading at a child.
I read and re-read Pride and Prejudice from about the age of 11 onwards, supplementing it with the movie and TV adaptations (all of them!). Unfortunately the adult Nessa has less time for Darcy's snobbish diffidence, but the teenage me was thrilled by it. Elizabeth is still my heroine, though.
The first and last books on your bookcase/shelf.
I'm currently in the attic space, so the bookcase here is almost entirely poetry-based - we keep the fiction in the spare bedroom. The first book on the poetry case is Pablo Neruda's The Book of Questions, and the final book is an enormous volume of Shakespeare's The Complete Works. I think that both copies are actually belonging to my husband, Peter Salisbury, but what's his is mine! There are also piles and piles on the floor, but let's not mention them.
A book yet-to-be-released, which you are looking forward to reading.
Nuala O'Connor is a fabulous writer and brilliantly evokes period and character, so I'm really looking forward to her next book, which is about Joyce's wife Nora Barnacle. She spoke about it very enticingly at last year's Bray Literary Festival.
A book that you feel is underrated and deserves more attention.
Mary Morrissy's book The Rising of Bella Casey didn't get the attention it deserved when first published. It's a wonderful exploration of character, and of the fascinating women who often get side-lined by the better-known male sibling (she was the sister of playwright Seán O'Casey). Mary is a wonderfully wise and perceptive writer and we are lucky to have her.