Dinner Party

Sarah Gilmartin / Fiction

Book cover

UK Publisher

Pushkin Press

Date Published

September 16th, 2021


Italy (Marsilio)
Germany (Kein & Aber)

To mark the anniversary of a death in the family, Kate meticulously plans a dinner party – from the fancy table setting to the perfect baked alaska waiting in the freezer. But by the end of the night, old tensions have flared, the guests are gone, and Kate is spinning out of control.

Set between from the 1990s and the present day, from Carlow to Dublin, the family farmhouse to Trinity College, DINNER PARTY is a beautifully observed, dark and twisty novel that thrillingly unravels into family secrets and tragedy.

Haunting and unforgettable, it explores how the past informs the present, the inevitability of childhood damage resurfacing in later life – and yet how, despite everything, we can’t help returning home.


Sarah Gilmartin is a natural writer: she gives us terrific, complex characters and strong themes, in prose that is easy, fluent and charged with insight.

- Anne Enright, Booker Prize-winning author of The Gathering

There is a sprightliness and deftness of touch in Gilmartin’s writing, interspersed with wry and dark humour, that keeps the pages turning.

- The Bookseller

Sarah Gilmartin's depiction of an Irish family across the decades leaves the reader
in no doubt how complicated love can be. A brilliant debut.

- John Boyne, bestselling author of The Heart’s Invisible Furies

We readers know the particular pleasure of realising that the search is off - here is our next read. Here is an expert writer. And if this is a debut, then here is an author to watch. It’s a pleasure to be had on the very first page of Gilmartin’s stunning novel. Taut, compelling, Enright-esque.

- Meg Mason, author of Sorrow and Bliss

An immensely powerful debut novel from a writer here to stay. Sarah Gilmartin is a really wonderful storyteller.

- Joseph O’Connor, bestselling author of Star of the Sea

An unravelling of tragedy that the reader watches in horror... Sarah Gilmartin's page-turning literary debut is a fresh, confident and compelling new take on sibling dynamics and the family secrets that are never far from the surface.

- Henrietta McKervey, author of The Heart of Everything

Dinner Party is a tense and thought-provoking novel about family; desires, frustrations and their undercurrents, the landmines that people fear they'll set off if they say the wrong thing and the irresistible urge, on occasion, to do just that. Beautifully written and highly accomplished, with evocative settings and characters which will stay with me for a long time. I loved it.

- Andrea Carter, author of The Inishowen Mysteries

A classic Irish family saga, butterflied fearlessly, diced finely, and served up anew, achieving epic proportions from the most intimate of settings. Dinner Party: A Tragedy heralds a blazing new talent in Irish fiction.

- Gavin Corbett, author of This is the Way

Gilmartin has a forensic eye for the little moments and mumbled asides which reveal both her character's faults and strengths. She writes sharply and cleanly but always with a degree of compassion.

- Jan Carson, author of The Firestarters

Stylish and funny, acutely attentive to the painful dynamics of family, Dinner Party is a good book and an exceptional first novel from a gifted writer.

- Conor O’Callaghan, author of We Are Not in the World

I loved her clean, forensic writing. Gilmartin is clearly a writer to watch.

- Clare Chambers, author of SMALL PLEASURES

A different kind of modern Irish novel [...] it made me think of Belinda McKeon or Anne Enright [...] It's a really open-hearted, compassionate book shaped by tragedies and the subdued, but finally warm, survival instinct of one family in the face of tragedy.

- Niamh Campbell, author of THIS HAPPY

A finely observed Irish debut

- Guardian

Elegantly written, Sarah Gilmartin’s Dinner Party is a study of grief and the intricacies of family relationships. I loved these siblings. Stumbling towards adulthood, broken and carrying tremendous loss, they fail, self-sabotage but persist. Gilmartin’s prose is assured and sharp sighted, the story authentic, wise and full of compassion. Brilliant.

- Una Mannion

There will always be room for another novel about toxic familial dysfunction, and Gilmartin’s bestselling debut enlivens that inherently claustrophobic material with darkly humorous set pieces and page-turning pace.

- The Observer

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