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An epic coming-of-age novel and a poetic evocation of the Irish famine as it has never been told before

About the Author

Paul Lynch is the author of the novels Red Sky in Morning and The Black Snow. He won France's Prix Libr'à Nous for Best Foreign Novel, and was a finalist for the Prix du Meilleur Livre Étranger (Best Foreign Book Prize). He lives in Dublin with his wife and daughter. www.paullynchwriter.com


‘The Irish writer’s third novel raises timeless questions about suffering and survival through the story of two children expelled from their impoverished home in the midst of the Great Famine. When you’re starving, Lynch seems to be asking, are you truly alive?’ Editors' Choice, The New York Times Book Review

‘This book is one of the most beautiful I have read in a long time. Heart wrenching and so moving, with language that makes your soul sing.’ Caitriona Balfe, actress and star of Outlander

‘A profound and unusual coming-of-age story.’ The Sunday Times

‘A shudderingly well written, dead-real, hallucinatory trip across Famine Ireland.’ Emma Donoghue, author of Room

‘Haunting and poetic… Lynch has given us poignant glimpses of the human body’s limits, that peculiar messiness of identity, and what happens when parts of a society fail to help, or even acknowledge, those in need.’ Irish Times

‘Lynch is frighteningly skilled...searing images into the mind and forcing you to press carefully through sentences as if they are strips of long grass.’ Sunday Independent, (Dublin)

‘Lynch…has a particular gift for finding the unexpected yet compelling image that conveys the anomalous nature of this otherworld…. [The] poetic prose is at deliberate odds with the stark horror it depicts, and yet the four blank, black pages at the terrible climax of Grace’s journey are as eloquent as anything else on the unspeakable tragedy of the Famine.’ TLS

‘Lynch brilliantly conveys the rabid effects of the famine on his characters…and he offers us a worthy heroine to guide us through it.’ Irish Examiner

‘A literary beauty… It is the saddest, heaviest, most beautiful, lyrical [novel], one of the most stunning books I’ve read in recent times. I would urge you to read it.’ Ryan Tubridy, The Tubridy Show, RTE

‘An epic tale of endurance, which in Lynch's deft hands is harrowing and simultaneously starkly beautiful.’ Esquire, (Best Books of 2017 So Far)

‘When you finish, you feel like saying "wow". Under your breath perhaps, but do not be hard on yourself if you shout it out, because this is a work of staggering beauty and deep insight.’ Sydney Morning Herald

‘Lynch’s wonderful third novel follows a teenage girl through impoverished Ireland at the height of the Great Famine…Lynch’s powerful, inventive language intensifies the poignancy of the woe that characterizes this world of have-nothings struggling to survive.’ Publishers Weekly, (starred review)

‘A beautifully written novel, with a haunting story and deep echoes of the Ancients.’ Edna O’Brien, author of The Country Girls

‘Lynch makes the page sing like the old masters.’ Philipp Meyer, author of The Son   

‘The power of Paul Lynch's imagination is truly startling; his ability to inhabit and deeply understand the moments, both slight and shattering, of a life and of an era translates into an instinct not just for story, but for the most hidden, most forceful currents of language and what they can do.’ Belinda McKeon, author of Tender

'As a writer, Lynch is sui generis. His style is bold, grandiose, mesmeric. He strives for large effects, wrestles with big ideas... Lynch has been compared to greats such as Cormac McCarthy, Faulkner and Beckett, while others have located him in the Irish gothic tradition of Stoker and le Fanu.' The Sunday Times (Ireland)

‘A work of great lyricism. Its beautiful prose is put to devastating effect in his vivid story of the Irish potato famine, which killed at least a million people... Lynch’s narrative gripped us from the start and never let us go. It haunted the judges long after the final line.’ The Walter Scott Prize for Historical Fiction Judges

‘A mesmerizing, incandescent work of art... An exhilarating, Odyssean, heartpounding, glorious story, wrought by a novelist with the eye and the ear and the heart of an absolute master.’ Donal Ryan, Booker-nominated author of The Spinning Heart

‘Lynch never shies away from the subject matter—the impossibly gruelling winters Grace faces, the people she meets and can never trust, the heartbreak of losing a family member... In Lynch’s deft hands I found myself enthralled as Grace cuts herself a path through a forbidding world.’ Johanna Zwirner, The Paris Review

‘It’s not just style that makes this an unforgettable book. Its heroine, 14-year-old Grace, may not have much to say for herself, but her younger brother, Colly, is a gleefully riddling, smutty delight. Gradually [the book] becomes a darker book as hunger eats away at humanity — and the darker it gets, the more [Lynch’s] unerring gifts are confirmed.’ Daily Mail

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