Home Features Beautiful books for a fresh season—First Flush for February

Beautiful books for a fresh season—First Flush for February

See First Flush for all your reading choices this month

January is in the rear view mirror and we have had our first Bank Holiday of the year (thanks St. Brigid) and are racing into February with the first hints of spring. If you’re looking for fresh books out this month, First Flush is your number one resource for new Irish book releases. See which books will be on the shelves this month—search by genre, keyword, author or title—or just browse through our archives for some inspiration. Our data base goes all the way back to 2021, so if you need to put your hands on a particular subject or genre, look no further. Alongside our official monthly Irish Bestseller Charts, all data is supplied by Nielsen Book.

Some beautiful books arrive this month, and in translated fiction is the winner of the BBC Ukrainian Book of the Year Award 2016, Forgottenness by Tanja Maljartschuk, translated by Zenia Tompkins with cover illustration by Anastasia Melnykova and cover design by Niall McCormack. The novel is published by Bullaun Press who brought us the European Prize for Fiction winner Without Waking Up by Carolina Schutti last year. A Sligo based publisher with broad horizons, Bullaun aims to bring more translated works to an Irish readership. Watch out for our review by Eoghan Smith, coming soon.

Forgottenness painstakingly traces parallels between the historical and the contemporary, the collective and the individual, between the stories of two people born on the same day, a century apart. The narrator, a writer grappling with her growing anxiety and obsessive thoughts, becomes fixated on Viacheslav Lypynskyi (1882–1931), a once-significant figure in the struggle for Ukrainian independence who has since fallen into oblivion, into the gaping mouth of time. As she plunges into her nation’s history to come to terms with her own, we slowly uncover the complex relationship between time, memory and identity to confront the question – what does it mean to remember?

It’s gratifying to see After A Dance come out this month, a collection of short stories from Bridget O’Connor who had “an eye for both the glaring reality and the absurdity of the everyday,” with a preface by her daughter, Constance Straughan. Here we meet characters living on the margin of their own lives: from the anonymous thief set on an unusual prize to the hungover best man clinging to what he’s lost, to the unrepentant gold-digger who always comes out on top. From unravelling narcissists to melancholy romantics all human life is here, at its best and at its delightful worst. Keep an eye out for our review by Rosemary Jenkinson, coming soon.

Described by Claire Askew as “a dark and gorgeous hymn to human mortality”, this month sees the publication of another beauty from Bloodaxe Books, We Go On, by Irish poet Kerry Hardie.

“This is a book about the irreducible core of what it is to be human in a world that changes constantly yet repeats and repeats. It uses images that speak to a place in us that does not depend on fashion but braves that over-used word ‘archetypal’. It is mostly specific to a landscape the author knows very well yet sometimes ventures beyond, always with the awareness that fear is our constant companion, but also joy.”

Out this month is He Used to Be Me, by poet Anne Walsh Donnelly (watch her read for Books Ireland on Poetry Happening here). Nuala O’Connor describes the New Island publication as “a fresh, melancholic hybrid – part prose-poem, part grief narrative.”

Another popular book comes from the bestselling author of The Letter Home, Whatever Happened to Birdy Troy by Rachael English (Hachette), which is described as “a rollercoaster journey through the rise and fall of four unforgettable friends and bandmates, in a music scene where darkness lurks beneath a veneer of glamour.”

Non-fiction this month includes the memoir A Woman in Defence: My Story of the Enemy Within the Irish Army, by Karina Molloy (Hachette), which is the often shocking story of a determined soldier who forged her way in a man’s world, and who continues to fight to make the army a safer and more equitable place for women. “What emerges is a damning expose of a venerable Irish institution which has failed to defend and protect its own.”

February also sees the publication of The Disappeared: Forced Disappearances in Ireland 1798-1998, by Padraig Og O Ruairc (Merrion Press) which uncovers the extent to which ‘forced disappearances’ were part of the violent political conflicts that blighted Ireland for 200 years.

Be Wild Little One, an uplifting picture book which explores the beauty of nature, written by Olivia Hope and illustrated by Daniel Egnéus was shortlisted for the KPMG Children’s Books Ireland Awards in 2023. Now it has a new life in Irish as Bi Fiain, a chroi (Futa Fata). This book takes you from pine forests to mountains, from sparkling seas to starry skies, each page full of wonders.

Of course, these are only a handful of the books out this month. Have a look around First Flush for more, or for some reading inspiration—and if you can, support your local bookshop!