The Butchers / The Butchers' Blessing (2020)
A photograph is hung on a gallery wall for the very first time since it was taken two decades before. It shows a slaughter house in rural Ireland, a painting of the Virgin Mary on the wall, a meat hook suspended from the ceiling - and, from its sharp point, the lifeless body of a man hanging by his feet.
The story of who he is and how he got there casts back into Irish folklore, of widows cursing the land and of the men who slaughter its cattle by hand. But modern Ireland is distrustful of ancient traditions, and as the BSE crisis in England presents get-rich opportunities in Ireland, few care about The Butchers, the eight men who roam the country, slaughtering the cows of those who still have faith in the old ways. Few care, that is, except for Fionn, the husband of a dying woman who still believes; their son Davey, who has fallen in love with the youngest of the Butchers; Gra, the lonely wife of one of the eight; and her 12-year-old daughter, Una, a girl who will grow up to carry a knife like her father, and who will be the one finally to avenge the man in the photograph.
GUARDIAN review: 'this strange and poignant book grips throughout, offering a vivid portrait of one of Ireland’s less heralded corners.'
DAILY MAIL review: 'Gilligan is a persuasive storyteller...'
IRISH TIMES review: 'a masterful plot about pandemic and upheaval...'
SUNDAY INDEPENDENT review: ' an outstanding contemporary twist on the great Irish novel. Enchanting, ethereal and enlightening. Highly recommended.'
IRISH INDEPENDENT review: 'Gilligan's keen and acerbic eye for detail picks up on events and attitudes, measuring out scorn and sympathy in well-crafted asides.'
IRISH TIMES: Top 20 Summer Reads
PUBLISHERS WEEKLY review: 'beautifully crafted prose, suspenseful plotting, and imaginative scope'
KIRKUS review: 'an atmospheric portrait of a country at a crossroads, moving away from the traditional ways and toward a slick new millennial future. Thoroughly lovely.'
BOOKS IRELAND review: 'a whirling tale of borderlands and sacred cows'
Lola Young, Baroness of Hornsey, Chair of Judges, 2021 Royal Society of Literature Ondaatje Prize: 'Our winning title is about a moment in time, in a particular place. It’s been described in many different terms: Literary thriller, coming-of-age story, historical fiction, an account of superstition and the supernatural, but it doesn’t matter how it’s categorised – it’s a page-turning, roller coaster of a read.'
NINE FOLDS MAKE A PAPER SWAN (2016)
'Reminiscent of Téa Obreht, Nicole Krauss and Maggie O'Farrell… A wonderful new novel from a writer to look out for.' – Colum McCann
'I loved this beautifully written and elegantly managed novel and was sorry when it ended.' – Joseph O’Connor
'A rich and layered story of the complications, the mistakes and the heartbreaks of which a human life is made... I haven't read anything like it.' – Belinda McKeon
'Gilligan’s "literary fiction" debut inventively connects up Ireland’s Jewish narratives.' – Irish Times
'This complex historical novel follows in the footsteps of Joyce.' – Guardian
'A boldly ambitious novel of family and belonging.' – Kirkus Reviews [starred review]
'Gilligan makes a stellar U.S. debut with this wistful and lyrical multigenerational tale.' – Publishers Weekly [starred review]
'A gifted storyteller, with a rhythm and poetry to her writing reminiscent of Anne Enright.' – Jewish Chronicle
SOME RECENT SHORT STORIES
'The Tatty Hokers' , Voices: An Open Door Book of Stories (2020)
'Unnatural', Atlantic Books (2019)
‘And Each One of Her Bones Shall Be Broken’, Wasafiri (2017)
‘The Night of the Big Wind’, Banshee Lit (2016)
‘Dear God’, The Letters Page (2013)