Nine Folds Make a Paper Swan
1901. Cork can sound very similar to New York to foreign ears and tired brains, so it's no surprise that Ruth's family – Jewish refugees fleeing the European pogroms – mistakenly disembark from their boat to America a few stops and a few countries too soon. Still, her father can spin a story like pure silk, so surely Ireland's just a layover till he writes his great play and they can continue their journey west.
1958. He's still not spoken. It's been years since Shem was struck mute at his bar mitzvah, forcing his mother to hand him over to the care of Catholic nuns. There aren't too many of his kind in Ireland let alone in the sanatorium, so it's a lonely existence, but at least his secret is safely locked up in his mouth and kept behind closed doors, where it can never hurt the one person he loves.
2013. Aisling came to London to escape the Irish recession and concentrate on her career, not to fall in love with a part-time magician. She would marry him in a heartbeat, if only his family didn't insist that the ceremony should be performed by a rabbi. Unsure whether to give up her own heritage for some else's, Aisling looks to the past – from a rootless girl who never saw America to an outcast boy who never spoke again – to see if she can decide on her future.
"Richly layered with stories within stories and unexpected connections, this is one of those books I find myself thinking about days later. A wonderful read with Gilligan’s beautiful prose warmed by her compassion for travelers in the world, seeking love, family and home."
Elfrieda Abbeת Star Tribune
"Gilligan makes a stellar U.S. debut with this wistful and lyrical multigenerational tale linking the struggles of two immigrant Jewish families in Dublin with an Irish Catholic woman’s complicated relationship with her Jewish lover."
Publishers Weekly - Starred Review
" Nine Folds enters into communities of Irish Jews with a deliberation that sees the narrative extend itself across a century, gradually and elegantly weaving together three strands."
"Gilligan brings it all together by the end, showing her control and cleverness as a writer who is clearly enthralled by connections."
The Irish Times
"Immensely readable and was written with great flair, with dialogue and trains of thought that are authentic and vivid."
"Gilligan mostly has a firm grip on her material and deals thoughtfully and sensitively with issues of displacement, antisemitism, historical abuse and the sense of belonging. She is a gifted storyteller, with a rhythm and poetry to her writing reminiscent of Anne Enright."
The Jewish Chronicle