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The Family Business

By: Adrian Kenny

Publication Date: October 1999


The Family Business by Adrian Kenny

‘Another first in my life: at the age of thirty-one I brought a girlfriend home. Kathleen sat on the chaise longue, small legs crossed, one tiny toe resting on my mother’s lime-green pouffe, her petite nose wrinkling with distaste as she looked about our family den. Through her eyes I regarded the rusticated fireplace, the crenellation of photos above, the grey cloth donkey – creels full of real turf crumbs from the West – propped against the ormolu clock.’

The Family Business by Adrian Kenny is many things: journal of a frustrated young writer and lover; portrait of bohemian social life in 1970s Dublin; intimate history of the rising Catholic middle class and of a family in flux. Kenny writes autobiography with the eye and ear of a novelist, evoking a time, a place and a welter of emotions through vividly remembered scenes, snippets of dialogue, small epiphanies. Unlike most memoirs, which place so much weight on the act of remembering itself, and are thus more about the writer’s present than his past, The Family Business has the immediacy of a diary, and an almost excruciating honesty. It is, above all, an extraordinarily accomplished piece of writing.

‘The memoir covers Kenny’s life in an excellently evoked Seventies Dublin, enmeshed in his tight-knit mercantile family but wishing to break free and become a writer.’ –  The Independent

‘There are cadences and patterns in this memoir which give it the flavour of fiction, but no matter. The sharpness and humour of the writing win out.’ The Irish Times


ADRIAN KENNY was born in Dublin in 1945, and educated at Gonzaga College and University College Dublin. He has worked as an English teacher in Ireland and abroad, and as a freelance journalist. He is the author of The Feast of Michaelmas (novel, 1978), Arcady (stories, 1983), Before the Wax Hardened (autobiography, 1991) and Istanbul Diary (1994). He has also published an edition of the journals of Arland Ussher, and a translation of the 18th century Gaelic poet An Caisideach Ban. He is a member of Aosdàna.



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Weight 0.5 kg
Dimensions 135 × 215 mm
Publication Date

October 1999


Paperback, 224pp