Irish Book Awards

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  • Ireland AM

Girl

Girl is the new novel by Edna O’Brien, who in her ninth decade has produced her most searing and poignant work – a story of injustice, violence and redemption told with remarkable humanity and vision. 

‘I was a girl once, but not any more.’ Captured, abducted and married into Boko Haram, the narrator of this story witnesses and suffers the horrors of a community of men governed by a brutal code of violence. Barely more than a girl herself, she must soon learn how to survive as a woman with a child of her own. Just as the world around her seems entirely consumed by madness, bound for hell, she is offered an escape of sorts – but only into another landscape of trials and terrors amidst the unforgiving wilds of northeastern Nigeria, through the forest and beyond; a place where her traumas are met with the blinkered judgement of a society in denial.

How do we love in a world that has lost its moorings? How can we comprehend the barbarism of our enemies, and learn forgiveness for atrocities committed in the name of ideology? Edna O’Brien’s new novel pierces to the heart of these questions: and the result is her masterpiece.