Category: Fiction / General
Publisher: Faber & Faber
Publication date: 29 January 2009
Number of pages: 320
Prizes: Winner of Costa Novel Award 2008.
Winner of Costa Book of the Year 2008.
Winner of Hughes & Hughes Irish Novel of the Year Award 2009.
Winner of Tubridy Show Listeners' Choice Award 2009.
Shortlisted for Independent Booksellers' Week Book of the Year Award: Adults' Book of the Year 2009.
Nearing her one-hundredth birthday, Roseanne McNulty faces an uncertain future, as the Roscommon Regional Mental hospital where she's spent the best part of her adult life prepares for closure. Over the weeks leading up to this upheaval, she talks often with her psychiatrist Dr. Grene, and their relationship intensifies and complicates. Told through their respective journals, the story that emerges is at once shocking and deeply beautiful. Refracted through the haze of memory and retelling, Roseanne's story becomes an alternative, secret history of Ireland's changing character and the story of a life blighted by terrible mistreatment and ignorance, and yet marked still by love and passion and hope.
What the papers say:
These lives are reimagined in language of surpassing beauty. Above all it is the surpassing quality of Mr. Barry as language that gives it its power . . . Mr. Barry has said that his novels and plays often begin as poems (he is a published poet), but his language never clots the flow of his story; it never gives a whiff of labor and strain. It is like a song, with all the pulse of the Irish language, a song sung liltingly and plaintively from the top of Ben Bulben into the airy night. Dinitia Smith, "NY Times Daily Book Review". Just as he (Barry) describes people stopping in the street to look at Roseanne, so I often found myself stopping to look at the sentences he gave her, wanting to pause and copy them down . . . When I reached the last page, I did feel that I had shared a profound experience . . .Margot Livesey, "The Boston Globe". Luminous and lyrical. Pam Houston, "O Magazine" . I'd nominate Sebastian Barry, the most exhilarating prose stylist in Irish fiction which just about makes him, by definition, the best prose writer in the English language . . . Barry has shown a dazzling facility with poetry, drama and fiction, his works form a mosaic-like whole, though each stands on its own. He never uses a fancy word when a simple one will do; his characters speak a plain vocabulary, but in cadences tempered and honed into poetry . . . Sebastian Barry's achievement is unlike that of any other modern Western writer, a tapestry of interrelated works in different mediums woven from strands of his past and that of his country. "The Secret Scripture" fits seamlessly into a vision that seeks to restore with language that which has been taken away by history. Allen Barra, "Salon.com"
Sebastian Barry was born in Dublin in 1955 and educated at The Catholic University School and Trinity College, Dublin, where he was later Writer Fellow in 1996. His plays include Boss Grady's Boys (1988), The Steward of Christendom (1995), Our Lady of Sligo (1998), and The Pride of Parnell Street (2007), and his novels, The Whereabouts of Eneas McNulty (1998), Annie Dunne (2002), and most recently A Long Long Way (2005), which was the Dublin: One City One Book choice for 2007 and was shortlisted for the Man Booker and the Dublin International Impac Prize. He has won among other awards the Irish-America Fund Literary Award, The Christopher Ewart-Biggs Prize, the London Critics Circle Award, and The Kerry Group Irish Fiction Prize. He lives in Wicklow with his wife Ali and three children, Merlin, Coral and Tobias.
In Stock: 39 copies