Dr Ruth Gilligan

Dr Ruth Gilligan

Department of Film and Creative Writing
Lecturer in Creative Writing

Contact details

I am a bestselling novelist and journalist who joined Birmingham in September 2014. My research interests include world literature, transcultural fiction and Irish studies, with a particular emphasis on structure and form.


  • PhD in English, University of Exeter (2014)
  • MA in Creative Writing, University of East Anglia (2011)
  • MA in English, Yale University (2010)
  • BA in English, Cambridge University (2009)


I have published three novels to date, and was the youngest ever person to reach number one on the Irish bestsellers’ list. My fourth novel, Nine Folds Make a Paper Swan, is based around the history of the Jewish community in Ireland, and will be published in July 2016 by Atlantic Books (UK/Ireland) and January 2017 by Tin House (US).

My short stories have appeared in a diverse range of publications, from The Istanbul Review and The Irish Pages, to Ambit and Banshee Lit. I also write literary reviews for The Guardian, The Times Literary Supplement, The LA Review of Books and The Irish Independent where I was a columnist for a number of years.

For more information, please visit: http://www.ruthgilligan.com/


I teach creative writing at undergraduate and postgraduate level, and have a particular interest in contemporary fiction, novel and short story writing and writing for the stage.

Postgraduate supervision

I would be interested in receiving proposals for postgraduate projects on any themes related to my research (contemporary literature; transnational fiction; form and narratology; Irish Studies).

Please get in touch with any queries.


My fourth novel, Nine Folds Make a Paper Swan, is based around the history of the Jewish community in Ireland, and combines extensive research with formal experimentation. My critical research, meanwhile, is currently focused on devising a ‘Narratology of Otherness’ which examines the way contemporary transcultural writers use structure and form. Much of this work centres around Irish-American novelist Colum McCann and his fictional and extra-fictional project. Finally, I am interested in concepts of empathy and its relationship with narrative and storytelling.

Other activities

This year I have presented papers at the British Association of American Studies Conference, the National Association for Writers in Education Conference and British Association of Irish Studies Conference.

I review literary fiction and non-fiction for The Guardian, The Times Literary Supplement, The Irish Independent and The LA Review of Books.

I am involved with the American storytelling charity Narrative 4, and this year have conducted a series of events with them which brought together diverse local schools and authors to explore the relationship between storytelling and empathy.

I am also the Film and Creative Writing Staff Liaison Contact for the Staff Student Committee.


  • Nine Folds Make a Paper Swan. Novel. Atlantic Books/Tin House. 2016/2017
  • ’Towards a Narratology of Otherness: Colum McCann, Ireland, and a New Transcultural Approach’. Studies in the Novel. 48.1 2016
  • ‘The Museum of Childhood’. Story. Ambit Magazine. 2016
  • ‘The Night of the Big Wind’. Banshee Lis. 2016
  • ‘Slaughter’. Story. The Irish Pages. 2014.
  • ‘The Empathy Man’. Essay. Dublin Review of Books. 2013.
  • ‘Dear God.’ Story. The Letters Page. 2013
  • ‘The Flotilla’. Novel extract. The Istanbul Review. 2011.
  • ‘One Day in Dublin, 1904’. Story. Vintage Script. 2011.
  • Can You See Me? Novel. Hodder & Stoughton. 2009/10.
  • Somewhere in Between. Novel. Hachette Books Ireland & S. Fischer Verlag Germany. 2007/8
  • Forget. Novel. Hachette Books Ireland. 2006/7.

For more information, please visit: http://www.ruthgilligan.com/