A Long Long Way by Sebastian Barry - shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize 2005 - is an epic and moving story of one man's war.
Sebastian Barry was born in Dublin in 1955. His novels include The Whereabouts of Eneas McNulty (1998), Annie Dunne (2002), A Long Long Way (2005) and The Secret Scripture (2008). A Long Long Way, which was also shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize and the Dublin International Impac Prize, was the Dublin: One City One Book choice for 2007. The Secret Scripture won several awards. It was also shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize. He lives in Wicklow with his wife and three children.
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.
"'The story grips, shocks and saddens; but most importantly refuses to be forgotten.' The Times 'A stunning achievement... Barry has written one of the most moving fictional accounts of war that surely must rank alongside those real-life testimonies of Owen and Sasson.' Sunday Tribune 'A deeply moving story of courage and fidelity.' J. M. Coetzee"