Even if you have yet to read the works of Emma Donoghue, you’ve probably heard others sing her praises. And for good reason! Emma Donoghue’s books make for really great reads. Her novels cover diverse topics and settings, but they all share a few things in common: they’re beautifully written, thought-provoking, and impossible to put down.
Emma Donoghue is a writer who originally hails from Dublin, Ireland. She received her Ph.D. from the University of Cambridge, where she studied friendships between men and women in 18th C. English fiction. Her fiction has been translated into over 40 languages, and she has received multiple awards for her writing, including the 2016 AWB Vincent American Ireland Funds Literary Award, and the 2011 National Lesbian and Gay Federation (Ireland) Person of the Year Award. She currently lives in London, Ontario with her partner and their son and daughter.
Donoghue has written in many genres, including short fiction, novels, non-fiction, and plays. She even adapted her own novel Room into a screenplay. Donoghue is, however, most well-known for her works of fiction. Here are just a few highlights from Emma Donoghue’s bibliography that are definitely worth a read.
Donoghue's most famous novel has now been adapted into an award-winning movie of the same name. This story is told from the perspective of five-year-old Jack, who has never seen a world beyond the room he has lived in for his entire life with his Ma. At night, his Ma locks him up in the wardrobe so that Jack will be safe when Old Nick visits. But while Room has been Jack's entire world, his Ma remembers a life before her imprisonment here, and she's determined to get them out and give Jack the life he deserves.
Set in the Irish Midlands in 1859, The Wonder is the story of an English nurse named Lib Wright who is sent to a tiny village to observe what some are claiming is a miracle. Eleven-year-old Anna O'Donnell has apparently survived without food for over four months. Also in the village to witness this so-called miracle is a skeptical reporter who will sit with Anna for two weeks to see if her claims are true. Is this a real religious experience, or is this child abuse? And when should Lib stop observing and step in, if a child's life is in danger?
Noah Selvaggio is from the South of France, living in New York as a retired chemistry professor. Right when Noah is about to make his first journey back to Nice in an attempt to uncover his late mother's wartime secrets, he receives a call from social services. Noah has an eleven-year-old great-nephew that he's never met, and he needs someone to look after him. So Noah agrees to take his great-nephew along with him to the French Riveria in what becomes a heartwarming family adventure.
It's the summer of 1876, and San Fransisco is overwhelmed with an oppressive heatwave and an outbreak of smallpox. Blanche Beunon is a French burlesque dancer whose friend, Jenny Bonnet, is shot dead through the window of a railroad saloon. Now, Blanche will stop at nothing to avenge Jenny's death and bring her murderer to justice, so long as he doesn't get to her first.
After you've read a few of Emma Donoghue's novels, why not delve into her short fiction with this short story collection? Included in this collection is "The Hunt," a short story that was short-listed for the 2012 Sunday Times EFG Private Bank Short Story Award. Much like the many varied topics of her novels, Donoghue's short works span a wide range of time periods, locations, and subject matters. Throughout all of these stories, whether they're set in antebellum Louisiana or contemporary Toronto, Donoghue features characters who have gone astray.