Reading in the Dark Background

Reading in the Dark Background

Set in Northern Ireland, Reading in the Dark is a portrayal of life in Catholic, impoverished Ireland. Written by Seamus Deane in 1996, the book won several awards, including the 1996 Guardian Fiction Prize and the Irish Literature Prize in 1997.

The plot of the novel, narrated by an unnamed young boy, is mainly about his coming of age and historical events that partitioned Ireland. Throughout the story, the narrator grows up, becoming more mature, and obtaining more knowledge about his family that he never knew before. Even as he is surrounded by increasingly bleak events, he never loses his idiosyncratic optimistic nature. As well, the book focuses on his relationship, as a Catholic, with the Protestants in his town, as well as the at times overbearing influence of the Church.

Reading In The Dark has had a large impact on later works, with many books even referencing it outrightly. As well, authors such as Dermot Kelly have written literary critiques about the work, praising its unique narrative voice, and how the book accurately and vividly paints an image of 20th century Northern Ireland, and the problems faced in that region.

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