All-Seeing Characters Who Refuse To Join In // Caitriona Lally
In recent years, major economic changes in Ireland have given rise to a host of oddball narrators in Irish literature, outsiders who don’t fit into boom-time society and who remain alienated during the bust. Prior to this, Irish writers have often produced an outsider literature, with stalwarts such as James Joyce and Samuel Beckett writing their most famous works about Ireland from outside the country. Furthermore, the protagonists of some of the best-known works of Irish literature–Leopold Bloom in Joyce’s Ulysses, Lemuel Gulliver in Jonathan Swift’s Gulliver’s Travels, and the eponymous Molloy by Beckett–are outsiders whose musings are used to satirize the ills of society as the writers see them.
My own experiences as an outsider in times of economic plenty helped me to create my oddball narrator, Vivian, in my first novel, Eggshells. Vivian believes she’s a changeling, a fairy child who has been left in the place of the human child that has been stolen. Vivian walks around contemporary Dublin, looking for codes, meanings, and patterns in order to find a way back to the world she believes she belongs in. I decided to make her unemployed because I wanted her to be an observer on the margins of society. Continue reading