Interview: Lisa McInerney

The Brief


Lisa McInerney is a writer who first gained a following for her award-winning blog about life in a Galway council estate, ‘Arse End of Ireland’. Her short story ‘Saturday, Boring’ was published in Faber & Faber’s ‘Town and Country’ anthology, edited by Kevin Barry. The Glorious Heresies, her debut novel, won the Baileys Women’s Prize for Fiction 2016 and the Desmond Elliott Prize 2016.

Which book would you recommend to our readers? 
Last Exit to Brooklyn by Hubert Selby, Jr. In Selby’s teeming city, misery doesn’t exclude vibrancy. Why can’t degeneracy be vivid?

Which film would you recommend to our readers?
, directed by Gaspar Noé. As punishing as it is to engage with, the ambiguity in its contorted denouement is beautiful.

Which poem would you recommend to our readers?
‘The Circus Animals’ Desertion’ by W.B. Yeats. It’s about the loss of inspiration in a creative life, but I read it as Yeats reassessing his muse, and find it comforting.

Which television episode would you recommend to our readers?
‘Gelsomina Verde’ from Gomorrah - The Series, directed by Claudio Cupellini. An unflinching telling of a cruel world and a cruel act, named after a real, innocent victim of the Camorra. I didn’t sleep after it.


The following questions relate to our Perspectives column, in which two writers respond to an artwork that they are experiencing for the first time.

Are artists their own greatest censors?
They should be. The expansiveness of creativity must be pinned down, id tamed by ego. Else it’s purely personal. If not self-congratulatory.

Is exploitative art ever excusable?
If it exploits the self, or manipulates its consumer, yes. If it exploits the vulnerable for the artist’s pride or consumer’s pleasure, no.

Should artists ever endanger themselves?
I would argue if the artist isn’t endangering themselves to some extent they’re being far too wary. You'll find little truth in caution.

The art of discovery

The following questions relate to Silent Frame’s aim to celebrate the art of discovery.

Is artistic discovery a private or shared experience?
Primarily a private experience, because art is subjective. Context and nuance are integral to discovery, and both are deeply personal.

What does experimentation mean to you?
Finding new structures to express thought, unusual angles, maybe the odd neologism. Strict writing rules can often force experimentation!

Why increase inclusion in the arts?
History is written by the winners. Excluding people from the arts means we all end up with stunted understanding.

More to discover

Lisa McInerney: You can visit Lisa McInerney's website here, find an excerpt from The Glorious Heresies here, read a short story by the author ('Navigation') on the Granta Magazine website, and read about her writing habits in an article for The Guardian.

Paul McVeigh has interviewed Lisa McInerney for The Irish Times, as have Katy Guest for The Pool, and StylistHer Twitter handle is @SwearyLadyThe Glorious Heresies is available to buy online via Hodder & Stoughton or Penguin Random House.

Today's recommendations: Last Exit to Brooklyn (excerpt), 'The Circus Animals' Desertion' (full poem), Irréversible (trailer) and Gomorrah - The Series (trailer). Lisa McInerney has also written about Last Exit to Brooklyn for Granta Magazine.

Also on Silent Frame