Book: American Doll by James Lawlesscategories: Book, Contemporary Women, Irish-American, Seeking One's Roots, Power of Love, Family Secrets, Religious Mania, Racism, Arab Culture, New York, Dublin, Ireland, 9/11
James Lawlessabout this book: American Doll tells how 9/11 opens a Pandora's Box on an Irish-American family.
When Laura Calane of New York comes to Ireland to further her studies and to live in what her father considers a safer environment after 9/11, she discovers that the land of her ancestors is not the haven she had believed it to be. When she meets social worker Danny Faraday, she is torn between her attraction towards him and the emotional blackmail of her uncle Thady who is domiciled in Ireland and who never lets her forget that he saved her father's life in a terrorist attack in New York in 1993.
The story is about loss, losing someone as Con the firefighter did with his wife in 9/11; it's also about hope, never giving up and knowing when to give up and let go, and how the process is in danger of repeating itself in the new generation with Laura his daughter going missing in Ireland, and Danny's parents who were also lost at sea. It's also about coming into maturity as in the case of Danny with the help of Laura suffering the grief, and with Laura, herself growing out of her family engendered chimeras.I believe this new novel is of the moment and could appeal to the huge population of Irish Americans and indeed to readers universally in its story of how religion and warped sexuality and pathological loyalties impact on a family. What exile means today and emigration. Who are the new Irish now and how do they differ from previous generations?
On the surface the story is a sort of Irish Roots as Laura Calane traces her ancestry back to west Cork and the famine ships of 1847. But, as Danny discovers when he visits New York, Black 47 is a pop group now, so it is essentially new wine in a new bottle, a twenty first century work as it breaks down shibboleths and Hollywood myths and the shackles of deep rooted rituals and family fidelities about Ireland and the Irish, particularly heightened by the 9/11 disaster.I studied in particular the fire departments of New York where two of my characters worked and I examined contemporary Irish and American perceptions of each other and how they compared with historical perceptions from memoirs and novels such as A Tree Grows in Brooklyn, Crossing Highbridge, Charming Billy, Dreaming of Columbus and Finding Jimmy. I was particularly interested in the bonding influences exerted by family, religion and love of the 'old country' and how these influences were brought to the fore by the 9/11 disaster. So while I hope American Doll will be judged artistically as a novel, I also would like to feel that it will be welcomed for shedding some new light on Irish/American perceptions of each other.
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