Going to My Father's House

Going to My Father's House:A History of My Times

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A historian's personal journey in the complex questions of immigration, home and nation.

A historian's personal journey into the complex questions of immigration, home and nation

From Ireland to London in the 1950s, Derry in the Troubles to contemporary, de-industrialised Manchester, Joyce finds the ties of place, family and the past are difficult to break. Why do certain places continue to haunt us? What does it mean to be British after the suffering of Empire and of war? How do we make our home in a hypermobile world without remembering our pasts?

Patrick Joyce's parents moved from Ireland in the 1930s and made their home in west London. But they never really left the homeland. And so as he grew up among the streets of Paddington and Notting Hill and when he visited his family in Ireland he felt a tension between the notions of home, nation and belonging. Going to My Father's House charts the historian's attempt to make sense of these ties and to see how they manifest in a globalised world. He explores the places - the house, the street, the walls and the graves - that formed his own identity. He ask what place the ideas of history, heritage and nostalgia have in creating a sense of our selves. He concludes with a plea for a history that holds the past to account but also allows for dynamic, inclusive change.


  • an immensely readable, thoroughly enjoyable book ... Hegel would have admired the way Joyce lets a sharply individualised life distil a whole socal history.

    Terry Eagleton, author of Why Marx was Right
  • A haunting meditation on Ireland and England, war and migration, Derry and Manchester. I admired the originality of his observations and his tone of melancholy, calm wisdom.

    Colm ToibinBooks of the Year 2021, Guardian
  • Merges personal stories with large political moments. Joyce's family came to England from Mayo and Wexford. His account of his life in London, of the legacy of war and of his experiences in Ireland is written with wisdom and grace.

    Colm ToibinAuthors' and Critics' 2021 Favourites, Irish Times