A breathtaking mix of memoir, nature writing and history: this is Kerri ní Dochartaigh’s story of a wild Ireland, an invisible border, an old conflict and the healing power of the natural world
SHORTLISTED FOR THE WAINWRIGHT PRIZE FOR NATURE WRITING – HIGHLY COMMENDED
‘Remarkable’ Robert Macfarlane
‘Beautiful’ Amy Liptrot
‘Powerful, unflinching … Part hymn to nature, part Troubles memoir’ Guardian
Kerri ní Dochartaigh was born in Derry at the very height of the Troubles. One parent was Catholic, the other Protestant. In the space of a year Kerri’s family were forced out of two homes and when she was eleven a homemade petrol bomb was thrown through her bedroom window. For families like hers, terror was in the very fabric of the city.
In Thin Places, Kerri explores how nature kept her sane and helped her heal, and how we are again allowing our borders to become hard and terror to creep back in. Kerri asks us to reclaim and rejoice in our landscape, and to remember that the land we fight over is much more than lines on a map.
“A remarkable piece of writing. I don’t think I’ve ever read a book as open-hearted as this. It resists easy pieties of nature as a healing force, but nevertheless charts a recovery which could never have been achieved without landscape, wild creatures and “thin places”. It is also flocked with luminous details (moths, birds, feathers, skulls, moving water). Kerri’s voice is utterly her own, rich and strange. I’ve folded down the corners of many pages, marking sentences and moments that glitter out at me. Wow”
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“Dochartaigh takes great solace in nature, and much of the book is a meditation on the beautiful landscapes and flora and fauna that surround her … Passionate, moving and beautifully written, this is a remarkable account of trauma and ways to acknowledge and overcome it”
“What was Kerri ní Dochartaigh’s burden as a child – to exist in “the gaps between” the Catholic and Protestant communities in Northern Ireland – has become her gift as a writer. She is sensitive to the legacies of loss and trauma and highly attuned to the gifts of the natural world and the possibilities of place. This is a special, beautiful, many-faceted book”
“Powerful, unflinching … Part hymn to nature, part Troubles memoir … Vividly descriptive … Thin Places is at heart a survivor’s story located in the real and brutally Darwinian world of lived experience”
guardian, Book Of The Day
“Fabulous … Piercingly honest, movingly heartfelt. There is so much soul and knowledge and compassion, it gave me shivers”
guardian, Best Books Of The Year
Kerri ní Dochartaigh is the author of Thin Places which was highly commended by the Wainwright Prize for Nature Writing 2021. She has written for the Guardian, Irish Times, BBC, Winter Papers and others. She lives in Cornwall with her family.
@kerri_ni | @kerrinidochartaigh