Edith Joyce’s love for Ireland (Il Maggio dei Libri 2021)

by Erica Surace

Love: a word with a vast significance, a precious feeling, an experience that pervades all of our lives both in conventional and less conventional ways. In this “Maggio dei Libri” (May of Books), Women Plot wants to tell you about loves that are much more than the classical boy-meets-girl. Today we reflect on the love for a land with Edith Joyce (instagram.com/edithjoyce_), an emerging writer who takes us to the green, enchanted landscapes of Ireland every time we read a short story of hers or we end up on her profile. What does it mean to love a culture, a country, a people so deeply that you feel like they are your true home?

  1. What does love mean for you?

To me, love is the sound of the door unlocking when G. comes back home. My mother who never apologizes but, at some point, comes with a fresh fruit salad and tells me “I made you this, since you’re studying”. Love from friends is also love, let’s face it. It is seeing something in a shop window and buying it for someone because “it made me think of you”. Love is, above all, security. It is being unafraid to tell your whole story and handing it over to somebody else, because you already know they are going to keep it and take care of it, at whatever cost.

  1. How do your works deal with love?

In what I write, love is never something easy. Yes, there may be love between two characters, but they go through so much that their love and pain often go hand in hand. Love is finding each other after a long time, but especially having waited for one another. There is so much love for nature in everything I write. My respect for tradition, for woodland creatures, for the little people. There is love for my own family, both the biological one and the one that raised me, with all of its ghosts.

  1. Where does your love for Ireland come from?

I’ve always had it inside of me. It’s odd to say. The 1st of January of many years ago, my parents woke me up at dawn and told me: wake up, we’re going to the airport. And then Dublin welcomed me with snow and, from there, I have never wanted anything other than the green countryside, the highest cliffs and many pints of dark Guinness. But it’s almost as if I was born with a love for Ireland. I carry that country inside of me.

  1. Who are some of your biggest literary and poetic influences?

Gabriel García Márquez, without a second thought. For years I have written fantasy stories, but there was something that made me say: this is not what I want to write. I don’t want to take anything away from fantasy, let it be clear – to me, Tolkien is like a father and I have lived and breather fantasy ever since I was a kid. But when it came to writing, I was looking for something different. I wanted to talk about reality, the Irish independence, the Irish republicans that were shot by the British. Gabo told me: this is possible. Magic realism is just a world where magic is an integral part of life. At poetry, truly, I suck. Many people think I write poems, but I would never go as far as to define myself a poetess. Poetry demands mad and desperate study. And I never devoted myself to it. I write thoughts, not poems. Who knows, maybe one day I’ll actually try.

  1. What is that one work of yours you feel the most attached to? Why?

Surely the novel I finished writing. It has been an endless journey – one that still has to come to an end – but I truly carry it in my heart. I came up with its idea in Ireland, and there’s a lot of Ireland in the novel, but then I wrote it partly in Rome, partly in Germany. I’m really attached to it because it’s the first complete and complex work of mine. I just had something inside that, for a long time, has been telling me: you have to write this story so that more people can get to know the little people, the Irish tradition, the wonder of that countryside, where there still is some old lady leaving a glass of milk on the windowsill to ask the fairies a favor.

We will have the pleasure to speak with Edith on Tuesday, 4 May 2021 at 6:30 PM (CEST) through an Instagram Live on our profile (instagram.com/womenplot) where we will further discuss folklore stories, Ireland, and being in love with a place.