The desire to engage and confront traumatic subjects was a facet of Irish literature for much of the twentieth century. Yet, just as Irish society has adopted a more direct and open approach to the past, so too have Irish authors evolved in their response to, and literary uses of, trauma.
In Trauma and Recovery in the Twenty-First-Century Irish Novel, Costello-Sullivan considers the ways in which the Irish canon not only represents an ongoing awareness of trauma as a literary and cultural force, but also how this representation has shifted since the end of the twentieth and beginning of the twenty-first century. While earlier trauma narratives center predominantly on the role of silence and the individual and/or societal suffering that traumas induce, twenty-first-century Irish narratives increasingly turn from just the recognition of traumatic experiences toward exploring and representing the process of healing and recovery both structurally and narratively. Through a series of keenly observed close readings, Costello-Sullivan explores the work of Colm Toibin, John Banville, Anne Enright, Emma Donohue, Colum McCann, and Sebastian Barry. In highlighting the power of narrative to amend and address memory and trauma, Costello-Sullivan argues that these works reflect a movement beyond merely representing trauma toward also representing the possibility of recovery from it.