Dr Ruth Gilligan's (Department of Film and Creative Writing) new novel Nine Folds Makes a Paper Swan is coming out with Atlantic Books in 7 July 2016. She has also recently signed an American contract with Tin House who are going to publish the book in January of next year, and has been offered an Israeli publication/translation deal, so the book will also be translated into Hebrew shortly.

Book cover

1901. Cork can sound very similar to New York to foreign ears and tired brains, so it's no surprise that Ruth's family -Jewish refugees fleeing the European pogroms - mistakenly disembark from their boat to America a few stops and a few countries too soon. Still, her father can spin a story like pure silk, so surely Ireland's just a layover till he writes his great play and they can continue their journey west. 1958. He's still not spoken. It's been years since Shem was struck mute at his bar mitzvah, forcing his mother to hand him over to the care of Catholic nuns. There aren't too many of his kind in Ireland let alone in the sanatorium, so it's a lonely existence, but at least his secret is safely locked up in his mouth and kept behind closed doors, where it can never hurt the one person he loves. 2013. Aisling came to London to escape the Irish recession and concentrate on her career, not to fall in love with a part-time magician. She would marry him in a heartbeat, if only his family didn't insist that the ceremony should be performed by a rabbi. Unsure whether to give up her own heritage for some else's, Aisling looks to the past - from a rootless girl who never saw America to an outcast boy who never spoke again - to see if she can decide on her future.

Ruth will be launching the book in London on 13 July and in Birmingham on 28 July

Reminiscent of Téa Obreht, Nicole Krauss and Maggie O'Farrell, Gilligan captures the pulse of one of Ireland's untold stories, and asks us to consider the age-old dictum that the past is not dead, it is not even past. A wonderful new novel from a writer to look out for. --Colum McCann

The most famous literary Irishman of all time was a Jew, yet the stories of his community have been seldom told. Nine Folds Make a Paper Swan blooms in that silence, with grace, confidence and vividness. I loved this beautifully written and elegantly managed novel and was sorry when it ended. --Joseph O'Connor

A rich and layered story of the complications, the mistakes and the heartbreaks of which a human life is made... I haven't read anything like it, and I was delighted to meet with her characters: voices which are so real - sometimes funny, sometimes frustrating, sometimes devastated - and which linger in the little streets imagined by the novel long after the story has been told. --Belinda McKeon