Fresh Talent: The Glorious Heresies by Lisa McInerney

Fresh Talent: The Glorious Heresies by Lisa McInerney

The Glorious Heresies by Lisa McInerney

‘He was definitely dead, whoever he was. He wore a once-black jumper and a pair of shiny tracksuit bottoms. The back of his head was cracked and his hair matted, but it had been foxy before that. A tall man, a skinny rake, another string of piss, now departed. She hadn’t gotten a look at his face before she flaked him with the Holy Stone and she couldn’t bring herself to turn him over.’

One messy murder affects the lives of five misfits who exist on the fringes of Ireland’s post-crash society. Ryan is a fifteen-year-old drug dealer desperate not to turn out like his alcoholic father Tony, whose obsession with his unhinged next-door neighbour threatens to ruin him and his family. Georgie is a prostitute whose willingness to feign a religious conversion has dangerous repercussions, while Maureen, the accidental murderer, has returned to Cork after forty years in exile to discover that Jimmy, the son she was forced to give up years before, has grown into the most fearsome gangster in the city. In seeking atonement for the murder and a multitude of other perceived sins, Maureen threatens to destroy everything her son has worked so hard for, while her actions risk bringing the intertwined lives of the Irish underworld into the spotlight …

Biting, moving and darkly funny, The Glorious Heresies explores salvation, shame and the legacy of Ireland’s twentieth-century attitudes to sex and family.

Read if you loved: City Of Bohane – Kevin Barry

Lisa McInerney Biography

Lisa McInerney is from Galway and is the author of award-winning blog ‘Arse End of Ireland’.

The Irish Times has called her ‘arguably the most talented writer at work in Ireland today’.

Her mother remains unimpressed.

Lisa McInerney on the Inspiration Behind The Glorious Heresies

The Glorious Heresies came out of my misplaced notion that I should publish a collection of short stories before tackling a novel. I was storing inspirational snippets in my head – still images, or fragments of conversations, or little silent movies. It eventually dawned on me that there wasn’t a secret writer’s code that would oblige me to capture each in the short form before rewarding myself with a novel. I turned my attention instead to a novel, which I knew would be set in contemporary Ireland and would almost certainly be irreverent to the point of blasphemous.

But the strongest of those images – that of a woman in late middle years, on a busy city street, astonished at how her capacity for violence wasn’t more obvious to passers-by, having just killed someone and all – wouldn’t leave me. Quite a number of Heresies’ characters were already in existence, most of them trapped inside notebooks or half-finished pieces on my computer. Maureen, a spiky, mischievous and very immature mature woman was one of them, and it occurred to me that this woman on the city street could easily be her. I started to track Maureen’s off-kilter quest for redemption – or at least a kind of redemption that didn’t offend her ornery, rebellious disposition. Alongside her was a cast of miscreants and underdogs who had never met Maureen but whose lives were all thrown out of whack by her journey: a fickle sex worker, a pragmatic gangland boss, an incompetent father and a teenaged drug dealer with a secret passion for music and a girlfriend he put on a pedestal.

The story took off, and my characters found themselves navigating many of the twists and snags particular to contemporary Irish life: a church obstinately refusing to acknowledge its diminishing influence; the prevalence of alcohol; double standards about sex and drugs. And yet it’s a novel I hope will make readers laugh.

That may sound odd; it’s stuffed with the grimmest of episodes and the most desperate of people. But we’ve always been so good with gallows humour in Ireland, so keen to weave jokes into tragedy, so ready, should the occasion demand it, to attempt outsmarting the devil. Once you have Irish characters who speak Hiberno-English, there’s not an awful lot you can do to keep the humour out of things. I love that readers are finding themselves laughing along with The Glorious Heresies; it feels only right to quip on the cusp of despair.