Exciting Times Naoise Dolan
Clever, deadpan and emotionally aware, this debut novel is told from the perspective of Ava, a nihilistic young Dubliner forging a new life in Hong Kong. Aware of the bad choices she makes, she watches herself do so with a sardonic eye and witty self reflection. Dolan writes astutely on the intricacies of power dynamics, social media interactions, gendered behaviours and class indicators, and delves deeper to portray the human struggle of either shoring oneself up for self protection, or risking being open to love. We watch Ava’s two relationships unfold- one practical and familiar in its dysfunction and one that terrifies her with its strength of feeling. Dolan excels at intimate narrative devices such as contrasting Ava’s outwardly closed off demeanour with the vulnerable text messages that she doesn’t dare to send, making us compelled to read on, willing Ava to choose love.