HallowReads: Eimear McBride

All through October, we’ll be sharing spooky reading recommendations from authors and staff. Whether it’s a horrifying contemporary work or a tell-tale classic, these selections are sure to haunt you for years to come. We spoke with Eimear McBride, author of the award winning A Girl is a Half-Formed Thing about her favorite HallowRead. McBride comes to Washington, D.C. on October 27, 7 p.m., at the Rí Rá Georgetown.

My first recommendation is Mira Corpora, the first novel by playwright Jeff Jackson. Written in an unforgiving, almost hallucinatory prose, the story follows a young american runaway through a series bleak under—and over—worlds. By avoiding any temptation to literalise or relent into easy judgment Jackson captures both the rush and extreme vulnerability of dispossessed, disregarded youth. Beautiful and horrible, it’s one of the few books to have given me actual nightmares and has stayed with me long after I turned the last page.

The second is From the Mouth of the Whale by the Icelandic writer Sjon. Built around the life of seventeenth century ‘man of science’ Jonas Palmason who has been exiled within his own country on charges on sorcery, the story—while ostensibly tracing his rise and fall from grace along with the impact of both on his life and the life of his family—is a deeply moving meditation on the nature of humanity and the quest for enlightenment.

My third is the non-fiction recommendation Indonesia, Etc.: Exploring the Improbable Nation by Elizabeth Pisani. Having only very recently and very briefly visited Indonesia this book offered both extraordinary pleasure and incredible insight into a beautiful, tumultuous and fascinating country. Whether or not you have been there or ever plan to go, Pisani’s wonderfully engaging exploration of the political, historical, cultural and religious complexities of the world’s fourth most populous nation is a great read.

—Eimear McBride