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Sebastian Barry was born in Dublin in 1955. His plays include Boss Grady's Boys (1988), The Steward of Christendom (1995), Our Lady of Sligo (1998), The Pride of Parnell Street (2007), and Dallas Sweetman (2008). Among his novels are The Whereabouts of Eneas McNulty (1998), Annie Dunne (2002) and A Long Long Way (2005), the latter shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize. His poetry includes The Water-Colourist (1982), Fanny Hawke Goes to the Mainland Forever (1989) and The Pinkening Boy (2005). His awards include the Irish-America Fund Literary Award, The Christopher Ewart-Biggs Prize, the London Critics Circle Award, The Kerry Group Irish Fiction Prize, and Costa Awards for Best Novel and Book of the Year. He lives in Wicklow with his wife Ali, and three children, Merlin, Coral, and Tobias.
Dulce et decorum est pro patria mori-that's the line from Horace (later famously quoted by war poet Wilfred Owen) that Irish poet, playwright and novelist Barry seeks to debunk in this grimly lyrical WWI novel. After four years of brutal trench fighting, Willie Dunne, once an eager soldier in the Royal Dublin Fusiliers, is still a "long long way" from home. Irish Home Rule seems a distant fantasy after the miserable Easter 1916 uprising in Dublin, which Willie, back in Ireland on his first furlough, was forced to help quell, firing on his own people; relations with his pro-British father, who abhors Willie's equivocal stance on Irish nationalism, have soured; his beloved Gretta has married another man; and most of his original Irish band of brothers have been slaughtered. The novel's dauntless realism and acute figurative language recall the finest chroniclers of war (Willie supposes that dead French soldiers "lay all about their afflicted homeland like beetroots rotting in the fields"). Still, Barry lingers too long on the particulars of the battlefield-the lice, the putrid muck-while failing to adequately develop the disasters Willie must face back in Ireland. As such, this somber novel-unlike Barry's moving previous book, Annie Dunne, whose eponymous narrator is Willie's younger sister-often lacks the nonsoldier human faces necessary to fully counterpoint the coarseness of military conflict, though its inevitably bleak conclusion is heartrending. Agent, Derek Johns at A.P Watt (U.K.). (Feb. 7) Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.
"A deeply moving story of courage and fidelity."--J.M. Coetzee, Nobel Prize-winning author of Disgrace "A modern masterpiece."--The Boston Globe "Barry succeeds admirably in creating complex individuals who find themselves trapped in a brutal reality."--Los Angeles Times "Wrenching...[Barry marches] bravely into the darkest, most dangerous terrain of human nature."--The Christian Science Monitor "Nobody writers better about the trenches of the First World War than Sebastian Barry. In brutally effective prose he lays bare and celebrates the heroism of the young men whose livers were lost on the killing fields of France. His great gift is that he makes you feel he is reporting events that he's witnessed first hand."--Peter Sheridan, author of Everything Inch of Her "This is Sebastian Barry's song of innocence and experience, composed with poetic grace and an eye, both unflinching and tender, for savage detail and moments of pure beauty. It is also an astonishing display of Barry's gift for creative a memorable character, whom he has written, indelibly, back into a history which continues to haunt us."--Colm Tï¿½ibï¿½n "Lyrical...Willie Dunne's voice, like his dilemmas, has the resonance of authenticity."--Hew Starchan, author of The First World War "A Long Long Way is one of those novels that, as you turn it over in your mind, may just stay with you a long, long time."--The Denver Post