A couple of weeks ago I attended the launch of Thomas Morris’s Dubliners 100 published by Tramp Press. Tramp Press are an independent publishing company set up in Dublin this year by Sarah Davis-Goff and Lisa Coen, and their mission is to find brilliant new literary voices to nurture and publish. Dubliners 100 is their second title; the first was Flight, a debut novel by Oona Frawley. Thomas Morris served as editor of this collection and he invited new and established Irish writers to create ‘cover versions’ of their favourite stories from James Joyce’s Dubliners to commemorate the centenary of the original.
The list of contributors to the book is a testament to the fact that Irish fiction is flourishing in recent times. Included are established writers like Patrick McCabe and John Boyne, debut novelists Oona Frawley and Eimear McBride, and some favourites of mine like Peter Murphy, Paul Murray and Donal Ryan.
I had only read the stories in Joyce’s Dubliners a couple of times and so I decided to read Dubliners 100 in a specific way: reading the original Joyce story and reading the Dubliners 100 version immediately afterwards. It’s been a fascinating process as some writers have chosen to reinterpret the original story in a more obvious way, and others barely allude to the Joycean one at all. So far I have loved John Kelly’s version of A Little Cloud, and Eimear McBride’s version of Ivy Day in the Committee Room showcases again her incredible talent for language.
But don’t worry! Knowledge of Joyce isn’t essential and if you haven’t read the original stories in Dubliners you could certainly enjoy Dubliners 100 on its own merits. Plus it’s a great introduction to fifteen wonderful Irish writers. You can buy it in bookshops or direct from Tramp Press via their website.