Women, fictional messages and a crucial decade
in From prosperity to austerity
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Pierse looks at the role of women writers who furnish important images of societal change and paint portraits that are vital for social history. Despite the marked lack of public clamour for artistic involvement in cogitation, diagnosis or prescription regarding two decades of rollercoaster ride from embryonic prosperity to economic austerity, the recent fiction by notable Irish women novelists has determinedly featured numerous depictions of women's experiences, actions and reactions during that time. Such fictional engagement evidences authorial concern with the shifting sands, and a sensitivity to readers’ preoccupations; with no area of life neglected, the novels and short stories furnish important images of societal change and paint portraits that are vital for social history. Perceived constraints, relationship difficulties, negotiation of economic, religious, educational and social environment, attitudes to family and children – all feature in fiction written in this millennium by Anne Enright, Éilís Ní Dhuibhne, Edna O'Brien, Belinda McKeon, Cláir Ní Aonghusa and others. This paper will consider the authors’ rendering of remarkable developments, elements of resistance, expression of doubt, and divergent attitudes to the fictional delineation of future prospects for women and humanity. As an exploration of gendered narrative enunciations of this period, this chapter offers some original insights.

From prosperity to austerity

A socio-cultural critique of the Celtic Tiger and its aftermath

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