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Irish-American Novelist Alice McDermott

On St. Patrick ’s Day, remembering and living with beloved Irish-American writer Alice McDermott.

Novelist and National Book Award-winning Alice McDermott. (Jamie Schoenberger / Epic Photography)

Novelist and National Book Award-winning Alice McDermott. (Jamie Schoenberger / Epic Photography)

In a nation of immigrants, Irish-Americans have a storied history – sometimes beautiful, sometimes not.  Fleeing famine, scrambling ashore.  Finding their way, like Chinese and Koreans, Poles and Portugese, Haitians and Italians and everybody else – but with bagpipes and Irish history.  Irish-American novelist Alice McDermott tells that story with exquisite nuance.  She is with us on this St. Patricks Day, when the culture continues to find its way.  To parade and not.  To agree and not, on gay rights and more.  This hour On Point:  the great Alice McDermott, on the path of Irish America.

— Tom Ashbrook

Guests

Alice McDermott, novelist, professor of humanities at Johns Hopkins University and author of “Someone,” “Charming Billy,” “A Bigamist’s Daughter,” “That Night,” “At Weddings and Wakes,” “Child of My Heart,” and “After This.”

Jack Beatty, On Point news analyst.

From Tom’s Reading List

Baltimore Magazine: Class Act — “What’s less known about McDermott is that she’s forged a stellar reputation as an educator. She has, since 1996, taught in the Writing Seminars at The Johns Hopkins University, where she conducts graduate and undergraduate fiction workshops. ‘It’s energizing,’ she says. ‘I enjoy looking at that first draft and thinking, ‘What have we got here? What’s on the page that we can make use of?’ I occasionally feel like I’m more invested in the stories than they are, but it’s always fun because they’re so talented.'”

New York Times: Survivor Among a Lifetime of Ghosts — “Ms. McDermott brings supreme ease and economy to summoning young Marie’s memories in detail (why did those shirts seem to suffer?) and staying within specific time periods in Marie’s life. It is only later that the book will revisit that soda bread and link it to a sense of loss. ”

USA Today: Alice McDermott, Donna Tartt among Critics Awards finalists — “Thirty finalists in six categories are honored, including several USA TODAY-reviewed books, including ‘Someone’ by Alice McDermott. The National Book Critics Circle Awards, founded in 1974 at the Algonquin Hotel and considered among the most prestigious in American letters, are the sole prizes bestowed by a jury of working critics and book-review editors. “

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