Old God's Time PB_clean_cover
2024 Shortlist

Old God’s Time

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ABOUT
THE BOOK

Retired policeman Tom Kettle is enjoying the quiet of his new home in Dalkey, overlooking the sea. His peace is interrupted when two former colleagues turn up at his door to ask about a traumatic, decades-old case. A case that Tom never came to terms with. His peace is further disturbed by a young mother who asks for his help. And what of Tom’s wife, June, and their two children? A beautiful, haunting novel, Old God’s Time is about what we live through, what we live with, and what will survive of us.

2024 JUDGES’ COMMENTS

Old God’s Time by Sebastian Barry is a book about love. It’s a world of precarious balancing, a high wire act in which the ghosts of the past intermingle with the challenges of the present. Here a retired policeman settling into a new stage in his life faces the legacy of an old case. This exploration of trauma, childhood abuse in catholic institutions, memory and the lingering impact of loss is devastating. It deftly avoids the trap of solely being one note in that regard. Barry does something clever here where he elevates the work beyond the confines of its themes into a reading experience that often feels transcendent despite the painful subject matter. It’s impossible to read this novel and not be moved by its mercurial power, the ways in which it shifts ideas of human consciousness. This is a beautiful and, in some ways, tender work. Full of heart, risk and that illusive, rare quality the best storytellers possess, it marks Barry, one of our most gifted talents as a writer who continues to invigorate the novel form. 

‘Outstanding, a revelatory and deeply affecting work. Barry’s meditation on trauma, memory and loss is a book about love that lingers in the body long after reading it.’ Irenosen Okojie, 2024 Dublin Literary Award Judge

ABOUT
THE AUTHOR Sebastian
Barry

Sebastian Barry was born in Dublin. The 2018–21 Laureate for Irish Fiction, his novels have twice won the Costa Book of the Year Award, and he is a two-time winner of both the Independent Booksellers Award and the Walter Scott Prize. He had two consecutive novels shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize, A Long Long Way (2005) and the top ten bestseller The Secret Scripture (2008), and he has also won the Kerry Group Irish Fiction Prize, the Irish Book Awards Novel of the Year and the James Tait Black Memorial Prize. He lives in County Wicklow. Photo Credit:Hannah Cunningham

Sebastian Barry was born in Dublin. The 2018–21 Laureate for Irish Fiction, his novels have twice won the Costa Book of the Year Award, and he is a two-time winner of both the Independent Booksellers Award and the Walter Scott Prize. He had two consecutive novels shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize, A Long Long Way (2005) and the top ten bestseller The Secret Scripture (2008), and he has also won the Kerry Group Irish Fiction Prize, the Irish Book Awards Novel of the Year and the James Tait Black Memorial Prize. He lives in County Wicklow. Photo Credit:Hannah Cunningham

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NOMINATING LIBRARY COMMENTS

This is the story of Tom Kettle, former policeman in Deansgrange/Dublin, now a „pensioned ghost“. It took him nine months to arrive in retirement and settle in Dalkey, a summer resort at the coast. With former colleagues on his doorstep he is forced to deal with questions from his past. Deep reflections on his life and family arise, on his role as father and husband as well as policeman and colleague, memories of devotion and fear, trauma and love, and a mission. Tom can‘t come to a rest, there always will be a vulnerable part in his past and someone to save. Sebastian Barry’s language is poetic (through many a thicket of brambles), full of phantasy (the privacy of inanimate things), it carries colloquial exclamations (Arra!) as well as affirmative doublings (look, look). The author takes the reader in – we can‘t let loose of Tom‘s story and not everything is as it seems…

ADDITIONAL INFORMATION

Date published
02/03/2023
Country
Ireland
Original Language
English
Publisher
Faber & Faber
Borrow this book from Libraries Ireland

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