A Ghost in the Throat (Paperback)

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A Ghost in the Throat By Doireann Ní Ghríofa Cover Image

A Ghost in the Throat (Paperback)


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June 2021 Indie Next List

“This is a literary mystery explored with white-hot intensity. The author’s journey, both physical and emotional, to discover more about the central poem and its author is obsessive and candid. It’s not just genre-blending, it’s genre-obliterating. A Ghost in the Throat cannot be contained.”
— Lesley Rains, City of Asylum Bookstore, Pittsburgh, PA

Staff Reviews

A mesmerizing blend of  memoir, history and research that is unlike I’ve ever read. Simply brilliant.

— From Shannon's Picks

“This is a female text.” These words recur throughout this book...an incantation calling us to an awareness of its significance. After all, the most common thing in the world is for a woman’s voice to be forgotten...buried.

This book is as defiant of attempts to pin it down as the woman who inspired it. It is the story of one Irish poet’s obsession with another, long dead but echoing through time thanks to a searing lament for her murdered husband. As Ni Ghriofa spends a decade immersed in motherhood, she becomes determined to find out more about Eibhlin Dubh as a woman, not just a black space in the lives of the men she loved. 

As one who has also feared disappearing, Ni Ghriofa’s quest to salvage what shards she could of the woman who came before her felt life-saving. Eibhlin Dubh’s life became the trail of breadcrumbs Ni Ghriofa laid down so she could find her way out later. I’m glad she brought us along.


— From Gwen

An Post Irish Book Awards Nonfiction Book of the Year - A Guardian Best Book of 2020 - Shortlisted for the 2021 Rathbones Folio Prize - Longlisted for the 2021 Republic of Consciousness Prize

When we first met, I was a child, and she had been dead for centuries. I am eleven, a dark-haired child given to staring out window ... Her voice makes it 1773, a fine day in May, and puts English soldiers crouching in ambush; I add ditch-water to drench their knees. Their muskets point towards a young man who is falling from his saddle in slow, slow motion. A woman hurries in and kneels over him, her voice rising in an antique formula of breath and syllable the teacher calls a caoineadh, a keen to lament the dead.

In the eighteenth century, on discovering her husband has been murdered, an Irish noblewoman drinks handfuls of his blood and composes an extraordinary lament that reaches across centuries to the young Doireann Ní Ghríofa, whose fascination with it is later rekindled when she narrowly avoids fatal tragedy in her own life and becomes obsessed with learning everything she can about the poem Peter Levi has famously called "the greatest poem written in either Ireland or Britain" during its era. A kaleidoscopic blend of memoir, autofiction, and literary studies, A Ghost in the Throat moves fluidly between past and present, quest and elegy, poetry and the people who make it.

DOIREANN NÍ GHRÍOFA is a bilingual writer whose books explore birth, death, desire, and domesticity. Doireann's awards include a Lannan Literary Fellowship (USA, 2018), a Seamus Heaney Fellowship (Queen's University, 2018), the Ostana Prize (Italy, 2018), and the Rooney Prize for Irish Literature (2016), among others. She is a member of Aosdána and this is her prose debut.
Product Details ISBN: 9781771964111
ISBN-10: 1771964111
Publisher: Biblioasis
Publication Date: June 1st, 2021
Pages: 224
Language: English