July's Book of the Month: Ruth Gilligan's 'Nine Folds Make a Paper Swan'

Pat and the Eason Book Club read the new novel from Irish writer Ruth Gilligan

Eason Book Club, Easons, Pat Kenny, Mary ORourke, Brian Kennedy, Katherine Lynch, Ruth Gilligan, Nine Folds Make a Paper Swan

Irish author Ruth Gilligan [Twitter]

With last month’s book having completely split the panel, for July’s read, Pat and the rest of the Eason Book Club panellists will take on Ruth Gilligan’s fourth novel Nine Folds Make a Paper Swan. The book marks a turning point in Gilligan’s career, one of many that has seen the Irish woman tread the streets of Carraigstown in Fair City, earn an MA from Yale and a PhD from Exeter, and now write her most acclaimed book yet, a story recounting the oft forgotten world of Irish Jews.

Nine Folds Make a Paper Swan takes place in three different time periods. In 1901 Cork, a Jewish family fleeing the pogroms of Eastern Europe mistake their last stop on this side of the Atlantic for New York. Ruth is convinced that this new and accidental life in Cork is just a temporary problem till her father finally writes that play of his and the family can continue on to America.

In 1958, the mute Shem has been handed over to the care of Catholic nuns as his mother struggles to care for him. The weight of loneliness and the secret he carries exerts its toll on him, but at least his silence offers some protection to the one person he loves.

And in 2013, Irish emigrant Aisling came to London to escape the dismal Irish economy, and never reckoned on falling in love with a part-time magician. While marriage is on the card stuffed somewhere up his sleeves, the demands that he marry a Jew means Aisling must come to terms with her own heritage. Can Ruth and Shem’s stories influence her own?

The Eason Book Club will take place on Thursday, July 28th. You can listen back to last month’s meeting here.

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