William Wall (writer)

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William Wall
Born 6 July 1955
Cork City, Ireland
Occupation Novelist, poet
Nationality Irish
Alma mater University College Cork
Notable works This Is The Country, Alice Falling, No Paradiso, Mathematics & Other Poems

William "Bill" Wall (born 1955) is an Irish novelist, poet and short story writer. He was born in Cork City in 1955, but grew up in the coastal village of Whitegate. He received his secondary education at the Christian Brothers School in Midleton. He progressed to University College Cork where he graduated in Philosophy and English. He taught as an English and drama teacher at Presentation Brothers College, Cork, where he inspired Cillian Murphy to enter acting.[1]


In 1997, Wall won the Patrick Kavanagh Poetry Award. He published his first collection of poetry in that year. His first novel, Alice Falling, a dark study of power and abuse in modern-day Ireland, appeared in 2000. He is the author of four novels, two collections of poetry and one of short stories.

In 2005, This Is The Country appeared. A broad attack on politics in "Celtic Tiger" Ireland,[2] as well as a rite of passage novel, it was longlisted for the Man Booker Prize, and shortlisted for the Irish Book Awards. It can be read as a satirical allegory on corruption, the link between capitalism and liberal democracy exemplified in the 'entrepreneurial' activities of minor drug dealers and gangsters, and reflected in the architecture of business-parks and sink estates. This political writing takes the form of "an insightful and robust social conscience", in the words of academic John Kenny.[3] Dr Kenny also focused on what he saw as Wall's "baneful take on the Irish family, his fundamentally anti-idyllic mood" which has "not entirely endeared Wall to the more misty-eyed among his readers at home or abroad".[3] The political is also in evidence in his second collection of poetry Fahrenheit Says Nothing To Me. He is not a member of Aosdána, the Irish organisation for writers and artists. In 2006, his first collection of short fiction, No Paradiso, appeared.

His provocative political blog, The Ice Moon, has increasingly featured harsh criticism of the Irish government over their handling of the economy, as well as reviews of mainly left-wing books and movies. A lot of his posts are satirical such as "Wall Supports Brand Ireland" or "A New Proclamation" which is a satire response to Ireland's economic crash and the EU/IMF bail-out, using the language and structure of the 1916 Proclamation of the Irish Republic, a founding document of the state. He writes for Irish Left Review,[4] and reviews for The Irish Times and occasionally for literary journals. His work has been translated into several languages. He has also appeared on the Irish-language channel TG4, such as in the programme Cogar. He is a longtime sufferer from Still's disease[5] and described his efforts to circumvent the disabling effects of the disease using speech-to-text applications as "a battle between me and the software".[6]

He was one of the Irish delegates at the European Writers Conference in Istanbul in 2010.[7]

Critical response to his work

Described by writer Kate Atkinson as "lyrical and cruel and bold and with metaphors to die for", critics have focused on Wall's mastery of language, his gift for "linguistic compression",[3] his "poet's gift for apposite, wry observation, dialogue and character",[8] his "unflinching frankness"[9] and his "laser-like ... dissection of human frailties",[10] which is counterbalanced by "the depth of feeling that Wall invests in his work".[9] The New Yorker, in a review of his first novel, wrote that "Wall, who is also a poet, writes prose so charged—at once lyrical and syncopated—that it's as if Cavafy had decided to write about a violent Irish household".[11] In a recent review, his long poem "Job in Heathrow", anthologised in The Forward Book of Poetry 2010 but originally published in The SHOp,[12] was described as "a chilling airport dystopia".[13] Poet Fred Johnston suggests that Wall's poetry sets out to "list the shelves of disillusion under which a thinking man can be buried".[14] "His apocalyptic vision of the ecological demise of our planet is suffused with humility and resignation where the global catastrophe is transformed “into a universal truth / the days are shorter / today than yesterday”",[15] according to Borbála Faragó. For Philip Coleman "Ghost Estate is a deeply political book, but it also articulates a profound interest in and engagement with questions of aesthetics and poetics".[16]



This Is The Country was on the Man Booker Prize 2005 longlist.


Short stories


  • You can hear an exclusive interview with William Wall recorded in March 2010 and hear him reading from his novels at http://www.podcasts.ie/featured-writers/featured-prose-writers/william-wall/


  1. ^ http://cillianmurphy.weebly.com/
  2. ^ Todd McEwan. http://www.guardian.co.uk/books/2005/jun/25/featuresreviews.guardianreview12
  3. ^ a b c http://aran.library.nuigalway.ie/xmlui/bitstream/handle/10379/897/William%20Wall,%20This%20is%20the%20Country.pdf?sequence=1
  4. ^ "Irish Left Review · Articles by William Wall". Irishleftreview.org. Retrieved 5 December 2010. 
  5. ^ "Wall of pain and tenderness – Interview with William Wall | The Post". Archives.tcm.ie. 17 July 2002. Archived from the original on 29 September 2007. Retrieved 5 December 2010. 
  6. ^ "Disabling barriers to creativity – The Irish Times – Tue, Sep 21, 2010". The Irish Times. 21 September 2010. Retrieved 5 December 2010. 
  7. ^ Wall, William (1 December 2010). "The Complexity of Others: The Istanbul Declaration of The European Writers' Conference". Irish Left Review. Retrieved 1 December 2010. 
  8. ^ "Review: This Is the Country by William Wall | Books". London: The Guardian. 10 August 2005. Retrieved 5 December 2010. 
  9. ^ a b Killian Fox (27 August 2006). "Observer review: Mothers and Sons | No Paradiso | Books | The Observer". London: Guardian. Retrieved 5 December 2010. 
  10. ^ "The Best Fiction of 2000 – Page 2 – Los Angeles Times". Articles.latimes.com. 3 December 2000. Retrieved 5 December 2010. 
  11. ^ "Briefly Noted: Briefly Noted". The New Yorker. 7 January 2009. Retrieved 5 December 2010. 
  12. ^ Erwin Hofmann / Ballydehob / Ireland. "THE SHOp a Magazine of Poetry". Theshop-poetry-magazine.ie. Retrieved 5 December 2010. 
  13. ^ Tonkin, Boyd (9 October 2009). "Forward Book of Poetry 2010 – Reviews, Books". London: The Independent. Retrieved 5 December 2010. 
  14. ^ Johnston, Fred (2006). "Longing for Readings". The Poetry Ireland Review (85): 91–95. JSTOR 25580705. 
  15. ^ http://www.salmonpoetry.com/details.php?ID=224&a=197
  16. ^ http://www.munsterlit.ie/Southword/Issues/21/ghost_estate.html

External links

  • Author site: William Wall's Homepage
  • William Wall at The Other Voice International Project
  • William Wall at The Munster Literature Centre
  • Download a free copy of Mathematics & Other Poems or here at Irish Literary Revival
  • Interview with William Wall
  • William Stabile intervista William Wall
  • Read one of William Wall's stories
  • William Wall at Three Monkeys Online
  • http://www.podcasts.ie/featured-writers/featured-prose-writers/william-wall/
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