Voices is an anthology of short stories edited by Patricia Scanlan, by various Irish authors. It is not just any ordinary anthology though, it is special for two reasons. The first reason being that it was released into shops on the 8th of September last year, so is coming up on it’s first anniversary. The 8th of September marks International Literacy Day, and last year also was the 40th anniversary of NALA which stands for National Adult Literacy Agency.
Quoted on the ‘An Post’ website “According to NALA, one in six Irish adults find everyday pieces of text hard to read and understand. A further 37% may have difficulties with more complex copy, like a full-length novel.” So, the idea behind the Voices anthologies was to be simply written in plain English, encouraging those with reading difficulties to overcome obstacles which they may face with typical books and with a growing sense of confidence perhaps develop a love for reading. Reading should be assessable for everyone, the young and the old, and from all backgrounds. As George RR Martin said “A reader lives a thousand lives, before he dies.” Reading is not only a great gift to have and to be able to enjoy, reading makes all areas in a person’s life much easier.
The Open Door series has been going since 1998, introducing readers to Irish writers and Voices is the latest anthology, published by New Island Books. The authors in this book are: Graham Norton, Roddy Doyle, Blindboy Boatclub, Carlo Gébler, Christine Dwyer Hickey, Ciara Geraghty, Colm O’Regan, Deirdre Purcell, Dermot Bolger, Donal Ryan, Emily Hourican, Louise Kennedy, Martina Devlin, Melatu Uche Okorie, Nuala O’Connor, Patricia Scanlan, Patrick Freyne, Paul Perry, Rachael English, Roisín O’Donnell, Ruth Gilligan, Sheila O’Flanagan, Sinead Crowley, Sinéad Moriarty, Úna-Minh Kavanagh, Yan Ge and Marita Conlon-McKenna.
My favourite stories are Dermot Bolger’s ‘That Special Moment’ about his memories of Mrs Butler’s guesthouse in Courtown, which is minutes away in the car from where I live in the town of Gorey, Co Wexford, and then Roddy Doyle’s ‘Around the World’ and how he would take his granny on imaginary trips around the World during lockdown and restrictions due to COVID 19 last year.
An enjoyable read with a mix of different stories. This book is available in libraries and is free to 120 ETB adult literacy centres. I read it on the ‘BorrowBox’ app on my mobile phone which is free to download, once you are a member of the library.
(c) Grace O’Reilly
Order your copy online here.