Emer Martin


1968- ; novelist, painter and film-maker; left Dublin as a teenager; ed. Hunter College, NY (BA) - class valetudinarian, Jan. 1998; m. an Iranian scientist in California and completed a film MA in San Fransisco State U.; issued Breakfast in Babylon (1995), winner of Listowel Writers’ Week Book of the Year award, 1996; issued More Bread or I’ll Appear (2000), Audre Lorde Prize, and Miriam Wienberg Richter Award, 2000; received Guggenheim Fellowship, 2000 (€50,000); awarded 2-year bursary by Irish Arts Council; taught creative writing at TCD; issued Baby Zero (2007), winner of Listowel Writers’ Week Book of the Year award, 2006; Teeth Shall be Provided (Canongate 1998); completed film MA San Francisco SF State University; settled in Co. Meath, 2005, insensed by the Bush regime’s foreign policy in the Middle East;
issued Baby Zero (April 2007), a tale of an Irish-raised Orapian woman’s fears during imprisonment in a fundamentalist [Taliban] regime, and the story she tells her unborn child about three “baby zeros”, partly inspired by the experiences of her husband’s family’s scattering; produced Nuts, Irvine Welsh’s directorial debut; issued The Cruelty Men (2018), a multi-generational novel about a Kerry-born Irish-speaking family in the Meath Gaeltacht whose children are placed in mother-and-baby and Magdalene institutions - launched at Hodges Figgis, 12 June 2018; scheduled interview with Darragh McInture at the Belfast Book Festival, 12 June 2018; she had two sell-out one-man [solo] shows of her paintings at the Origin Gallery in Harcourt St, Dublin; also shows at the Wild World settled at Palo Alto, California, 2017; writer in residence at The Wild World (Calif.), 2018.

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Novels, Breakfast in Babylon (Wolfhound 1995), 320pp.; More Bread or I’ll Appear (Allison & Busby 2000); Baby Zero (Brandon Press 2007), 320pp. ; The Cruelty Men (Lilliput Press 2018). Stories, Teeth Shall be Provided (Canongate 1998), q.pp.; contrib. to Shenanigans (Sceptre) and Fortune Hotel (Penguin). Children’s books: Why is the Moon Following Me? (q.d.); The Pooka (2016).

[ See The Art of Emer Martin [film] - at The Wild World Magazine - online; accessed 22.05.2108. ]

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Lucile Redmond, review of Breakfast in Babylon, in Books Ireland (Dec. 1995), p.327 [novel of drifters, winos, petty crooks in Paris, Berlin, London, central char. Isolate and Christopher, the Hoodoo man; streetwise; see also cover pic. in Books Ireland, Sept. 1995]; [Shirley Kelly,] ‘He Said Venice was Like Las Vegas’ interview-article in Books Ireland (Feb. 2007), p.6.

Lilliput Press, book-notice on The Cruelty Men (2018): Martin’s mother and baby homes and Magdalene Laundries are the Irish cousins of Dostoyevsky and Solzhenitsyn’s Gulags; her dispassionate depiction of the ordinary psychotic violence at the heart of families and society in rural Ireland is akin to that of Ferrante’s Naples. In this novel, two Ireland’s run in stark parallel. A gentle country of fairy rings, blackberry picking, and poker evenings with the local priest masks a system in which the Church and State incarcerate the vulnerable for profit. The intimacy of the first person accounts draws the reader into the world of each character. Their stoicism makes their suffering all the more moving and dignified. A delightful abundance of poetic and surreal phrases, quips and curses in this book give it a vitality and authenticity. Poignant and swift, The Cruelty Men tells an unsentimental yet emotional tale of survival in a country proclaimed as independent but subjugated by silence. (Online; accessed 22.05.2108.)


Emer Martin addresses an audience in Palo Alto

The old California where you went to light up, hit the surf, and drop out is just a hazy nostalgic dream long gone. The summer of love is now the summer of code. You are reading this because of these people. As I drive down the sleepy suburban tree-lined avenues, the quietness and unruffled calm is deceptive. No one can afford anything because the rich have taken all. Everyone wants to be a billionaire. This is New York on steroids.
“What does Google do?” I paused. “They have invented the cow that shits money.” There was a silence. In an auditorium of squirming teenagers no one moved. “That is what Google does.” I said in the hush that had descended. My daughter looked up from her phone and around at her peers in surprise. I saw her forehead wrinkle in a questioning frown. She had not heard a word I said. “This cow wanders from building to building over by Shoreline. At night when most of the people have torn themselves away from their work and trudged off to their tiny, outrageously high rent apartments in Mountain View, to check out each others lives on Facebook, or sit in Starbucks in strip malls skimming Instagram and trying to keep their feed matching, you can sometimes strain and hear this cow lowing.  She trudges heavily down the multi-colored corridors, past all the free vending machines, juice bars, yoga rooms, dry cleaners, day cares, everything designed so you never have to leave, and she keeps shitting. She shits and shits big piles of it. All they have to do is scoop it up and feed it to the bank. She is the cow that shits money. That’s what Google invented.”

Available at The Wild World - online; access 22.05.2018 [re-paragraphed].

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Baby Zero (2007) - an Irish-raised Orapian, Marguerite, imprisoned by fundamentalist government and pregnant, tells her unborn child stories of three baby zeros, Leila, Marguerite and the child herself - all born to a family at times of upheaval and scattered about the globe - to an uncle in Los Angeles and an Irish refugee programme. (Brandon Press notice, 2006 Catalogue).

The Cruelty Men (2018) - a a sweeping multi-generational view of an Irish-speaking family who moved from Kerry to the Meath Gaeltacht and the disasters that befall their children in Irish institutions. . Abandoned by her parents when they resettle in Co. Meath, Mary Ó Conaill is faced with the task of raising her younger siblings alone. Padraig has disappeared; Bridget escapes, and her brother Seamus inherits the farm. Maeve is sent to work as a servant to a family of shopkeepers in the local town. Later, pregnant and unwed, she is placed in a Magdalene Laundry where her twins are forcibly taken from her. Called by Irvine Welsh ‘The Cruelty Men: a tidal wave that drags you like a piece of debris through Irish history from the ice age to gangland Dublin. A bible of f**cked up Irishness.’(Lilliput Press notice, May 2018 - online.)



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