From a Low Quiet Sea
Donal Ryan Pages: 181 Published: 2018
The book: In Syria, Farouk and his family are managing to stay alive but contemplating a risky journey by sea to Europe—a safer place. Lampy lives in a small Irish town with his mother and grandfather, yearning for lost love. John is nearing the end of his life and is tormented by remorse over his past actions. The lives of these three men are about to intersect. What brings them to that point, and what will happen?
You might like it because: Ryan writes with emotion and compassion. He creates a vivid picture of his characters’ lives and gives the readers a real sense of place. This story is about the inter-connectedness of people.
What did other people say?
“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
“I struggle to think of a writer who has been so prolific and consistent in quality as Ryan… Brutally honest, moving and often hilarious.”- The Guardian (U.K)
Awards & Recognition:
Longlisted for the Man Booker Prize 2018
Shortlisted for the Costa Book Awards 2018 (U.K)
How quickly will you get into the book? Ryan quickly lays out the situation and the dilemma faced by Farouk. By page seven I needed to know what would happen and had to keep reading.
You might not like it because: Ryan introduces us to his characters, sketching out their lives and worries so we have a reasonably good picture of them. But he only goes so far, and some readers might want to know more.
Initially, this feels like a collection of unconnected short stories, rather than a novel, which might bother some readers who prefer a more traditional style.
What might you read next?
In interviews, Ryan has mentioned a number of authors he admires. Two of these writers were Joseph O’Conner and DBC Pierre. You could read Star of the Sea by O’Conner or pick up Vernon God Little by DBC Pierre.
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