From a Low and Quiet Sea: A Novel (Paperback)
Readers don't find out until the final chapter how these stories of three men are connected: Farouk, a Syrian doctor, who just barely survives his escape by sea from his war-torn homeland; Lampy, a young man in Limerick, whose job is to transport nursing home residents to doctors' appointments, and John, now an old man, who is recounting, as if he were in a confessional, his past life as a deal-making "lobbyist." Booker Award nominee Ryan paints intimate portraits of the three, each of whom who has lost or never had what he really wanted in life. And then you get to the ending, and you want to go back and read it all over again, now that you know the connections. The lovely writing ranks up there with my favorite Irish greats-- Sebastian Barry, William Trevor, and John Boyne. If you haven't yet discovered what Irish novelists can evoke with language, this might be the place to start. Highly recommended.— Alice
SHORTLISTED FOR THE COSTA BOOK AWARD
A moving novel of three men, each searching for something they have lost, from the award-winning and Man Booker nominated author Donal Ryan.
For Farouk, family is all. He has protected his wife and daughter as best he can from the war and hatred that has torn Syria apart. If they stay, they will lose their freedom, will become lesser persons. If they flee, they will lose all they have known of home, for some intangible dream of refuge in some faraway land across the merciless sea.
Lampy is distracted; he has too much going on in his small town life in Ireland. He has the city girl for a bit of fun, but she's not Chloe, and Chloe took his heart away when she left him. There's the secret his mother will never tell him. His granddad's little sniping jokes are getting on his wick. And on top of all that, he has a bus to drive; those old folks from the home can't wait all day.
The game was always the lifeblood coursing through John's veins: manipulating people for his enjoyment, or his enrichment, or his spite. But it was never enough. The ghost of his beloved brother, and the bitter disappointment of his father, have shadowed him all his life. But now that lifeblood is slowing down, and he's not sure if God will listen to his pleas for forgiveness. Three men, searching for some version of home, their lives moving inexorably towards a reckoning that will draw them all together.
About the Author
Donal Ryan is the author of The Spinning Heart, The Thing About December, A Slanting of the Sun, and All We Shall Know which have all been published to major acclaim. The Spinning Heart won the Guardian First Book Award, the EU Prize for Literature (Ireland), and Book of the Year at the Irish Book Awards, and was longlisted for the Man Booker Prize and the Desmond Elliott Prize. Donal holds a Writing Fellowship at the University of Limerick. He lives with his wife Anne Marie and their two children just outside of Limerick.
“Exquisitely rendered, with raw anguish sublimated into lyrical prose… [Ryan] weaves his three protagonists’ deceptively discrete trajectories together, creating a triptych of poignant and at times haunting stories.”—The Washington Post
“Donal Ryan writes within the venerable tradition of vernacular Irish literature, fashioning prose of spare, rough-cut beauty from the speech and thoughts of the working class… Ryan has a sensitive feel for the process of atonement, the gradual shifts in the human heart that steer his characters from wrongdoing or despair toward some form of redemption.”—Wall Street Journal
“Ryan writes with brilliant empathy about those in between.”—The Boston Globe
"Gorgeous prose, sentences that go on in an often Joycean fashion, association upon association, providing deep insight into each character... This is a book that comes alive even more when it’s reread, when the connections are known. Our separate lives, Ryan seems to be saying, are linked in ways we so often don’t recognize... we’re all connected."—Ploughshares
“Cunningly structured and deeply compassionate... When Ryan steps back to allow the connections among their stories to emerge in a relatively short final section, the effect is dazzling, like a series of fireworks building with each detonation.”—Booklist
"This is a superb novel."—John Boyne, The Guardian
"An engrossing, unpredictable, beautifully crafted novel; Donal Ryan is giving us characters - their angles and their language - that we haven’t seen in Irish literature before."—Roddy Doyle
"It’s a beautiful, luminous kind of piece - full of mystery, compassion, woven with such skill; heartbreaking and restorative. I will carry these splintered men around with me for a long time, along with the women who have loved them."—Rachel Joyce, New York Times bestselling author of The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry
"From a Low and Quiet Sea is not only very cleverly constructed, but deeply moving too. I loved it."—Louis de Bernières, bestselling author of Corelli's Mandolin
Praise for All We Shall Know
"So fine is this novel, and so purely told, that it establishes Mr. Ryan as the heir apparent to the late, great Irish stylists John McGahern and William Trevor… There are countless passages… that are so sculpted and beautiful that one’s lips begin to shape their words unbidden, the way a song can move a crowd to its rhythm."—Wall Street Journal
"A dwarf star of a novel: small, dark, impressively dense... All We Shall Know makes a novel about the heaviness of existence into something that is even, and easy — and, at times, perfect, and right."—Boston Globe
"[A] haunting, beautifully written story.”—Cleveland Plain Dealer
“An extraordinary portrait of adultery, loneliness and betrayal . . . One of the finest writers working in Ireland today . . .in the great tradition of tragic fiction, his lonely adulteress coming to grief in the same shadowy spaces as Emma Bovary or Anna Karenina.”—John Burnside, Guardian
“[All We Shall Know] is a novel of self-sacrifice, penance, and circumscribed possibilities for happiness, narrated with great compassion and written with elegant lyricism. . . Emotionally intense, deeply engaging, and profound.”—Kirkus
“A lush and lively novel that fascinates from its opening words to its tender last lines.”—Publishers Weekly
"Rich in the cadence of both the rural Irish vernacular and the Traveller mash-up of English and the Cant. [All We Shall Know] captures the turbulence of marriage, love, sex, class and violence--while leaving room for the big Irish heart that lies behind so much great literature in English."—Shelf Awareness