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July 16
From A Low and Quiet Sea by Donal Ryan

from a low and quiet sea
 

Having already published three novels and one volume of short stories, Donal Ryan combines both literary forms in From a Low and Quiet Sea. What initially appears to be separate short stores are ingeniously linked in the final section to create a coherent whole. 

The first “short story” deals with Farouk’s escape from war torn Syria, after which the focus moves to the West of Ireland where Lampy has reached adulthood but has no definite idea what he wants to do with his life. Readers are then introduced to John whose life is coming to an end and has decided it is time to confess to his many wrongdoings before the stories come together in the final part which is entitled “Lake Islands”. The novel’s title refers to the tranquil sea that turned tempestuous during Farouk’s journey but also acts as a metaphor for how people’s lives can change even though everything may appear calm on the surface. 

The novel is short and, as with Ryan’s previous work, not a single word is wasted. For example, all conversations are related from the perspective of the main characters which allows readers to understand the emotions felt by individuals from a range of backgrounds, even if they find a particular character contemptible. 

From a Low and Quiet Sea is literary fiction of the highest quality and is also a page turner because the characters are credible and the storylines are compelling. This imaginatively structured novel must surely confirm Donal Ryan’s position as one of Ireland finest writers. 

Submitted by David

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