Jiving At The Crossroads (New Edition)
by John Waters
In 1991, Ireland was in the midst of a devastating recession; thousands of young Irish men and women had emigrated over the previous decade, and divisive social and moral debates on abortion and divorce had rocked Irish society. The great pillars of society - politics and religion - were beginning to crumble, a process that continued in subsequent years as both institutions were hit by scandal. A questioning of the values on which Ireland had been built had begun, with an apparently unbridgeable divide opening between 'traditionalists' and 'modernizers'. At the start of the decade, the modernizers appeared to have won, with the election as President of the iconic Mary Robinson.
Irish Times columnist John Waters captured the zeitgeist of the time with the hugely successful Jiving at the Crossroads, which sold over 50,000 copies. A defining book of the era, its success was partly due to its remarkable blending of social/cultural commentary with personal memoir. At the emotional core of the book was the relationship between John and his father, and the story of Ireland was intricately woven into this powerful narrative. It was the first in a long line of books to question the very notion of modern Irish identity, and to examine the deep-rooted tensions at the heart of the Irish psyche.
Twenty years later, much has changed in Ireland, and yet Jiving at the Crossroads remains a deeply resonant book, particularly in the light of the remarkable rise and precipitous fall of the Celtic Tiger, and the fresh questioning of how we got where we are now. This twentieth anniversary reissue of a landmark book, with a new Afterword, will be welcomed by those who remember it, and will be a fascinating insight for a new generation of Irish people.
This is a splendid book, warm, eloquent and calmly intelligent, as easy and rewarding a read as anything published recently in Ireland. It combines political analysis, polemical essay, personal reminiscence and recapitulation of pieces published in the past... marvellously evocative of an era drawing to a close... This is the best book about Fianna Fáil published in recent years, and by a mile the best-written. A lot of it is funny, but mostly it's very sad
Eamonn McCann (Sunday Tribune)
An honest, funny, courageous book... the writer has indeed a heart with considerable idealism and passion... both calm and outrageous, funny and serious, mild and brave. Jiving at the Crossroads is one of the liveliest and most incisive books I've read this year. The book is shot through with a sense of excited and exciting discovery of many things and people... John Waters is one of the most credible and refreshing of all Irish journalists
Brendan Kennelly (Irish Times)
...a majestic book...
One of the most original and insightful Irish non-fiction books of the last decade... Any commentator who claims to know how Irish people feel, particularly about the national question, should be made to read this book
Conor Foley (Tribune Magazine)
...a seminal book...
This [is a] rich, racily written first book... one of the most inspired/inspiring debuts to have come from an Irish journalist in recent years
Aubrey Malone (Independent on Sunday)
John Waters' method is the word, his passion truth, his object a better world... a wonderful, witty, and moving book
Patsy McGarry (Irish Press)
This book is autobiographical, political, subjective, detached - and utterly fascinating in its insights and conclusions