STIR-FRY by Emma Donoghue


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 In her sweet first novel, Donoghue (Passions Between Women: British Lesbian Culture, 1668-1801, not reviewed) writes clearly but never plainly about Maria, a young woman from the country who comes to Dublin to begin college. Maria (pronounced with a long i to rhyme with ``pariah'') has the usual struggles in her early university days, but these scenes are refreshed by her lack of guile and by Donoghue's prose, which never condescends--even when Maria is too naãve to catch on immediately to the lesbian relationship between her two female roommates, despite some obvious signs. Eventually she surprises them in a kiss and, though shocked, stays on. One, Ruth, becomes almost a substitute mother for her, teaching her to cook and taking her to her women's group. Jael is more confrontational and less of a homebody, but she too warms up to Maria, whose growing acceptance of their sexuality coincides with some exploration of her own. With the encouragement of her friend Yvonne, a cheerful man-hunting fellow freshman, she halfheartedly pursues crushes, first on a brooding, pony-tailed man in her art history class, and then on an American visiting for a semester from Brooklyn who runs the lighting for a theater production for which Maria is on the stage crew. Mostly Maria worries about figuring herself out, since she has never before had a chance to decide what she likes. Slowly she begins to build an identity. On a visit home with Yvonne she feels embarrassed by her little brothers and by her parents' provincial life. Drifting away from her church upbringing, she muses about how ``automatic'' it was to attend church on Holy Days of Obligation at home, because the whole village went, while in Dublin such days simply slip her mind. Donoghue deftly separates her novel from the usual coming-of- age fare with gentle language and a winningly intelligent protagonist. (Author tour for Gay Pride Month in June)

Pub Date: May 18th, 1994
ISBN: 0-06-017109-X
Page count: 256pp
Publisher: HarperCollins
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1st, 1994

Kirkus Interview
Emma Donoghue
April 3, 2017

In Emma Donoghue’s new middle-grade novel, The Lotterys Plus One, Sumac Lottery is nine years old and the self-proclaimed "good girl" of her (VERY) large, (EXTREMELY) unruly family. And what a family the Lotterys are: four parents, children both adopted and biological, and a menagerie of pets, all living and learning together in a sprawling house called Camelottery. Then one day, the news breaks that one of their grandfathers is suffering from dementia and will be coming to live with them. And not just any grandfather; the long dormant "Grumps," who fell out with his son so long ago that he hasn't been part of any of their lives. Suddenly, everything changes. Sumac has to give up her room to make the newcomer feel at home. She tries to be nice, but prickly Grumps's clearly disapproves of how the Lotterys live: whole grains, strange vegetables, rescue pets, a multicultural household....He's worse than just tough to get along with—Grumps has got to go! But can Sumac help him find a home where he belongs? “Full of clever names and wordplay, this engaging tale is moving without veering into sentimentality,” our critic writes in a starred review. “For all the Lotterys’ apparent eccentricity, the novel delves into universal themes of family relationships that will resonate with readers from all backgrounds.” View video >


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