From A Low and Quiet Sea by Donal Ryan

from a low and quiet sea

Donal Ryan is head and shoulders above all but a small number of writers working in Ireland today. When you’re reading his prose, at times, it’s as if he doesn’t just have his finger on Irelnd’s pulse, but  that he seems to be clandestinely orchestrating our social mood swings with the scratch of his pen.

This book is split into 3 main sections, each narrated by three separate men, with a supporting cast of of a few more narrators at the tail end. It is in the final section where we begin to join the dots between the experiences of the three intial narrators.

It’s set unfamiliar territory, North Tipp/East Limerick and Clare, that fans of Donal Ryan will be familiar with. Themes of rural isolation, frustration and anger predominate but new for Donal Ryan in this outing is the character of Farouk, a Syrian refugee recently settled in Ireland who experiences unbearable tragedy while fleeing his homeland.

Heartless as it sounds, I found Farouk’s section the least interesting. Maybe I have no empathy, maybe I’m too inward looking or maybe Ryan writes with greater impact about subjects he knows better, who can say? In any case, Farouk’s section reduced this one ever so slightly in my esteem, whereas everything else I’ve read from Ryan was an effortless five stars. Still though, a wonderful book.

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You can reserve a copy online at South Dublin Libraries’ catalogue here.

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