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Thirsty Ghosts
Thirsty Ghosts

Thirsty Ghosts


352 Pages, 5.35 x 8.50

Formats: Trade Paper

Trade Paper, $24.99 (US $24.99) (CA $33.99)

Publication Date: May 2024

ISBN 9781843518631

Rights: US & CA

The Lilliput Press (May 2024)

Price: $24.99


"Flann O’Brien shot through with Guillermo del Toro. . . . A wild, magnificent book." —Sunday Business Post

"To say Emer Martin’s fifth novel is epic would be an understatement." —Sunday Independent

"There is ambition and then there is the Great Irish Novel kind of ambition that is in Emer Martin’s Thirsty Ghosts … A fine balance of the savagely funny and heartbreaking." —Bookseller

Emer Martin is an original, radical and vital voice in Irish writing who challenges the history of silence, institutional lies, evasion and the mistreatment of women across mid twentieth-century Ireland.

Two families intertwine in this energetic new work, an epic intergenerational saga that began with The Cruelty Men (2018) and continues here as punk rockers and Catholic laundries collide and spiral forward into a post-colonial Ireland still haunted by history. Interweaving scenes from Ireland’s mythological past, the Tudor plantations, the Magdalene laundries and the 1980s, The Thirsty Ghosts is epic in scope but intimate in focus.

The Lyons, professionals in a newly independent state, are attacked by paramilitaries in their family home in Tyrone. The displaced eccentric O’Conaills, traumatized by industrial schools and laundries, find themselves in leafy Dublin 4. There’s a servant girl who meets Henry VIII, a Lithuanian Jewish family who become part of the fabric of Dublin, and a wild young girl who escapes the laundry only to stumble into a psycho pimp.

Related with dark humor and high literary style, The Thirsty Ghosts is a revelatory exploration of Ireland; its themes of power, class, fertility, violence and deep love are as universal as the old stories that illuminate the characters’ lives.


"The Cruelty Men is 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." –Irvine Welsh

"Wry, trenchant. . . . Sharp-witted. . . . Movingly reveals the harm of clinging to the past, even in the name of family."  -New York Times Book Review on More Bread or I'll Appear

"A work of uncommon intelligence. . . . Martin's voice is strong and vibrant, her vision acute." --Boston Book Review on More Bread or I'll Appear

"Martin's inventive control of incident, her ability to create eccentric characters who are also convincing, and her acerbic, obliquely comic style steadily divert the reader. They also delay the realization that her novel is either a black comedy or a lament about the combination of Ireland's history and modern condition which produces a lunatic in every family's attic." —Atlantic Monthly on More Bread or I'll Appear
"Martin has put her generation into one of the world's oldest stories: the quest to bring the beloved back home." --
Seattle Times on More Bread or I'll Appear"[An] audacious second novel. . . . Startling, distinctive work." —Kirkus Reviews on More Bread or I'll Appear

"Winner of Ireland's prestigious 1996 Book of the Year award, this startling debut delivers a gritty, knowing transatlantic response to the current U.S. trend in "tough girl" writing. . . . Despite the grimness of her subject, Martin enlivens her work with dark, often hilarious humor, and disarming compassion. . . .  Like the work of a latter-day, punk Breughel, Martin's large tableau encompasses a whirl of memorable characters in beauty, brutality and humor." —Publishers Weekly on Breakfast in Babylon

Author Biography

Emer Martin is a Dubliner who has lived in Paris, London, the Middle East and New York, and is now living in California where she teaches writing, painting and resisting. Her first novel, Breakfast in Babylon, won the Kerry Group Irish Novel of the Year Award 1996. Her second, More Bread or I’ll Appear, was published in 1999. Baby Zero, her third novel, appeared in 2007. She was awarded the Guggenheim Fellowship in 2000 and founded the publishing cooperative Rawmeash in 2014. The Cruelty Men was published by the Lilliput Press in 2018 and was shortlisted for the Kerry Group Irish Novel of the Year Award in 2019. She lives in Palo Alto.