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London Irish FictionsNarrative, Diaspora and Identity$
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Tony Murray

Print publication date: 2012

Print ISBN-13: 9781846318313

Published to Liverpool Scholarship Online: June 2013

DOI: 10.5949/UPO9781846317897

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date: 23 January 2018

Navvy Narratives

Navvy Narratives

Chapter:
(p.42) 3 Navvy Narratives
Source:
London Irish Fictions
Publisher:
Liverpool University Press
DOI:10.5949/UPO9781846317897.004

This chapter, which examines two novels about Irish construction workers in London, The Contractors (1994) by John B. Keane and I Could Read the Sky (1997) by Timothy O'Grady and Steve Pyke, shows how both novels draw on powerful discourses of exile and mythology to render differing experiences of the diasporic condition. These texts provide a rare insight into the lives and mindsets of a generation of men who, although a familiar sight on the streets and building sites of London, remained a hidden and somewhat mysterious sub-sector of the city's population in the post-war years. The analysis focuses on how the authors navigate the border between the facts and fictions of this specific migrant milieu, and how this, in turn, influences the identities of their subjects.

Keywords:   Irish migrants, Irish construction workers, London, John B. Keane, Timothy O'Grady, Steve Pyke, diaspora, autobiography

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