Summary: For what it is worth, particularly if you are looking for gift or reading ideas, these are my top 10 reads for 2022, with links to longer reviews, in chronological reading order:
The Devil that Danced on the Water, by Aminitta Forna: Forna’s remarkable memoir of Sierra Leone and her father, a former finance minister for Sierra Leone, judicially assassinated by the country’s corrupt government.
Shadow Cast by Mountains, by Patrick Howse: a powerful collection of poetry by an Irish journalist who has seen the horrific face of war up close.
The Sunken Road, by Ciaran McMenamin: a very fine novel of war, alternating between the Western Front in France, and the Battle of Beleeks and Pettigo in 1922.
Country, by Michael Hughes: a brilliantly original retelling of the Iliad, transposed to the mountains of South Armagh during the Troubles.
Do Not Disturb: the story of a political murder and an African regime gone bad, by Michael Wrong: Wrong’s furious expose of the violence and corruption at the heart of the UK government’s favourite dictatorship, modern Rwanda.
Great Hatred; the assassination of Field Marshal Sir Henry Wilson MP, by Ronan McGreevy: not only a gripping account of the assassination, but a insightful history of the Irish diaspora in London and the London IRA’s involvement in the struggle for Irish Freedom.
Fake Law, by the Secret Barrister: a justly angry account of how the very concept of rule of law is under assault in the contemporary UK by its corrupt and venal government.
Apeirogon, by Colum McCann – a desperately sad perspective on the illegal occupation of Palestine viewed through the eyes of two bereaved friends, one Palestinian, the other Israeli.
Act of Oblivion, by Robert Harris – a fine historical thriller set in the aftermath of the English Civil war, that shows how the maxim of an eye for an eye tends to leave everyone blind.
Small Things Like These, by Claire Keegan – an intense, exquisite meditation on the heroism of an ordinary man in the Ireland of 1985.