Alannah Hopkin

Writer and journalist

New book "A Very Strange Man"
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A Very Strange Man

Posted on 27 Apr 2021 | Comments Off on A Very Strange Man

Cover Graphic of A Very Strange Man by Alannah HopkinA Very Strange Man
A Memoir of Aidan Higgins

New Island Press, Dublin. 2021.

This is a love story set in the Irish literary world between 1986 and 2015. When first introduced by the poet Derek Mahon, Alannah was an arts journalist turned full-time writer, and Aidan, her senior by 23 years, was one of Ireland’s leading literary stylists. They were together for 29 years, through good times and bad, writing and reading all the while. Drawing on diaries and notebooks, Alannah tells their story candidly and without commentary. The joyful years, filled with festivals, and visits to their Kinsale home by Richard Ford, Edna O’Brien and other literary legends are followed by tougher times during Aidan’s physical and mental decline. It is an exceptional piece of writing, objective and authoritative, personal, honest and moving.

‘Invaluable to literary scholars and those questing readers who seek out the best.’ Annie Proulx

‘Alannah Hopkin has written a fond, honest and deeply fascinating memoir of her partner, Aidan Higgins, a major figure in Irish writing in the 20th century…’ John Banville

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Full reviews below

Irish Times – Colm Toibin

Sunday Times – Louisa Carroll
Sunday Times Review "A Literary Affair" by Louise Carroll

Dublin Review of Books – Gerald Dawe
A Vanished Bohemia

Irish Times Culture Online – Rob Doyle
Photograph of Aidan Higgins with Neil Jordan and Dermot Healy at Kinsale Arts Week 2008

Although he never became a household name even in his native land, Aidan Higgins is among the most significant and original Irish writers of the late 20th century. Higgins died in 2015, aged 88, and now his widow, Alannah Hopkin – herself a writer of fiction, books on travel and history, and journalism – has written a remarkable and absorbing memoir of their life together.

Sunday Independent – Sebastian Barry’s book of the year
“So far, A Very Strange Man, by Alannah Hopkin. This is a strangely consoling memoir, and a very rare thing, being an accurate, candid, and moving book about what it is like to be a writer and to live with a writer. I began it the other morning outside in the sun and finished it some hours later, with a mild sunburn and a sense of great gratitude.”

Sunday Independent – Tanya Sweeney
Photograph of Writer Alannah Hopkin, pictured in her home Kinsale, Co. Cork. Picture by Clare Keogh

Intense, rich, romantic, rocky and complex: Alannah Hopkin on her life with the writer Aidan Higgins
‘In relationships, things are always shifting. It’s just life’, she tells Tanya Sweeney.

Books Ireland – Sue Leonard, April 2021

Sunday Business Post – books for summer

“Is the memory of things better than the things themselves?” was a question that obsessed the late Irish novelist Aidan Higgins. Whatever the answer, Alannah Hopkin’s memoir of their rocky but committed 29-year relationship is both powerful and moving. She also provides some vivid recollections from the west Cork literary scene, with walk-on parts for Edna O’Brien, Seamus Heaney and John McGahern. Above all, this is a book about the emotional challenges of caring for someone with dementia – proving that grief really is the price we pay for love.

Irish Examiner – Books pages 24 April 2021

Alannah Hopkin article in Irish Examiner - Memories of life with Aidan Higgins

Irish Examiner – Donal O’Keeffe 08 July 2021

Irish Examiner review of Kinsale Festival Donal O'Keeffe

Read Aidan’s view from his autobiography Donkey’s Years: