William Wall (writer)

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William Wall
Born6 July 1955
Cork City, Ireland
OccupationNovelist, poet
Alma mater University College Cork
Notable worksThis Is The Country, Alice Falling, No Paradiso, Mathematics & Other Poems

William "Bill" Wall (born 1955) is an Irish novelist, poet and short story writer.


Early life and education

Wall was born in Cork city in 1955, but he was raised 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.


William Wall taught English and drama 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. In 2017 he became the first European to win the Drue Heinz Literature Prize

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. Many of his posts are satirical [4] He occasionally for literary journals, writes for Irish Left Review, [5] and reviews for The Irish Times . 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 was one of the Irish delegates at the European Writers Conference in Istanbul in 2010. [6]

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", [7] his "unflinching frankness" [8] and his "laser-like ... dissection of human frailties", [9] which is counterbalanced by "the depth of feeling that Wall invests in his work". [8] A New Yorker review of his first novel declares "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". [10] In a recent review, his long poem "Job in Heathrow", anthologised in The Forward Book of Poetry 2010 but originally published in The SHOp, [11] was described as "a chilling airport dystopia". [12] Poet Fred Johnston suggests that Wall's poetry sets out to "list the shelves of disillusion under which a thinking man can be buried". [13] "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”", [14] 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". [15]

Personal life

Wall is a longtime sufferer from Still's disease [16] 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". [17]




Short stories collections

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  1. "About The Site And Actor!". cillianmurphy.weebly.com. Retrieved 27 December 2017.
  2. McEwan, Todd (25 June 2005). "Across the great divide". The Guardian . Retrieved 27 December 2017. Review of This is the Country.
  3. 1 2 3 Kenny, John (14 May 2005). "Craving the Normal" (PDF). The Irish Times. Weekend (13). Retrieved 27 December 2017 via library.nuigalway.ie. Review of This is the Country.
  4. Examples include "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.
  5. "Articles by William Wall". IrishLeftReview.org. Retrieved 5 December 2010.
  6. Wall, William (1 December 2010). "The Complexity of Others: The Istanbul Declaration of The European Writers' Conference". Irish Left Review. Retrieved 1 December 2010.
  7. "Review: This Is the Country by William Wall | Books". The Guardian. London. 10 August 2005. Retrieved 5 December 2010.
  8. 1 2 Fox, Killian (27 August 2006). "Observer review: Mothers and Sons | No Paradiso". The Guardian. London. Retrieved 5 December 2010.
  9. "The Best Fiction of 2000". Los Angeles Times. 3 December 2000. Retrieved 5 December 2010.
  10. "Briefly Noted: Briefly Noted". The New Yorker. 7 January 2009. Retrieved 5 December 2010.
  11. Erwin Hofmann / Ballydehob / Ireland. "THE SHOp a Magazine of Poetry". theshop-poetry-magazine.ie. Retrieved 5 December 2010.
  12. Tonkin, Boyd (9 October 2009). "Forward Book of Poetry 2010 – Reviews, Books". The Independent. London. Retrieved 5 December 2010.
  13. Johnston, Fred (2006). "Longing for Readings". The Poetry Ireland Review (85): 91–95. JSTOR   25580705.
  14. "salmonpoetry.com - Ghost Estate by William Wall". www.salmonpoetry.com. Retrieved 22 April 2018.
  15. "Ghost Estate reviewed in Southword 21". www.munsterlit.ie. Retrieved 22 April 2018.
  16. "Wall of pain and tenderness – Interview with William Wall". The Sunday Business Post. Thomas Crosbie Media. 17 July 2002. Archived from the original on 29 September 2007. Retrieved 5 December 2010 via tcm.ie.
  17. "Disabling barriers to creativity". The Irish Times. 21 September 2010. Retrieved 5 December 2010.