Sebastian Barry was born in Dublin in 1955. His plays include Boss Grady's Boys (1988), The Steward of Christendom (1995), Our Lady of Sligo (1998), The Pride of Parnell Street (2007), and Dallas Sweetman (2008). Among his novels are The Whereabouts of Eneas McNulty (1998), Annie Dunne (2002) and A Long Long Way (2005), the latter shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize. His poetry includes The Water-Colourist (1982), Fanny Hawke Goes to the Mainland Forever (1989) and The Pinkening Boy (2005). His awards include the Irish-America Fund Literary Award, The Christopher Ewart-Biggs Prize, the London Critics Circle Award, The Kerry Group Irish Fiction Prize, and Costa Awards for Best Novel and Book of the Year. He lives in Wicklow with his wife Ali, and three children, Merlin, Coral, and Tobias.
Irish playwright and novelist Barry's gift for image and metaphor (The Whereabouts of Aneas McNulty) are equaled here by his eye for descriptive detail. This moving story is narrated by the eponymous Annie Dunne, who, in her 60s, has come to live with her cousin Sarah on an impoverished farm in Kelsha, County Wicklow. Plain and poor, and afflicted with a humpback since a childhood attack of polio, Annie is grateful to Sarah for taking her in. She loves the farm and attacks the backbreaking daily chores with fierce ardor. But when a scheming handyman on a neighboring farm begins to court Sarah, Annie sees her livelihood threatened and fights back with the only weapons in her arsenal: bitterness and rage. Complicating the events of the summer spanned by the plot are the two young children left in Annie's care by her nephew, who's gone off to London. As Annie is terrified to admit, even to herself, the children have their own dark secret, too fearsome to contemplate. Veering between dread, anger and shame, Anne's thoughts are also a mixture of whimsical observations, nave ideas and a poetic appreciation of the natural world. This compassionate portrait of a distraught woman mourning the years of promise and dreams that were "narrowed by the empty hand of possibility" is a masterful feat of characterization, all the more vivid against the backdrop of rural Ireland in the 1950s, undergoing changes that throw Annie's life into sharper focus. (Aug. 26) Forecast: Booksellers should have no trouble handselling this book to discriminating readers who love beautiful prose and a richly textured story. Four-city author tour. Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information.
Annie's passionate observations and shifting moods-rendered in dense prose that's close to poetry-fuel this fine novel.--The New York Times Book ReviewA subtle but powerful novel of a spinster's life in the Irish countryside rises to great emotional heights...this is a deliciously poetic book.--The Washington Post Barry has given us a heroine of delicate complexity in a setting of rugged beauty. His flawless use of language and plot hold the reader rapt from beginning to end. --Jeanne Ray, Boston Herald Superb...Annie emerges from the novel as one o fthe most memorable women in Irish fiction.--San Francisco Chronicle As a wordsmith, Barry is at times amazing, his descriptions poetic and insightful.--The Philadelphia Inquirer Rarely has the precious interaction between the old and the young been captured in such beauty and tenderness...a remarkable novel.--The Christian Science Monitor Lyrical.--The Miami Herald Barry's gift for image and metaphor...are equaled here by his eye for descriptive detail.--Publishers Weekly