Author(s): Paul Lynch
A Paris Review Staff Pick
An Esquire Best Book of 2017
A sweeping, Dickensian story of a young girl on a life-changing journey across nineteenth-century Ireland on the eve of the Great Famine
Early one October morning, Grace's mother snatches her from sleep and brutally cuts off her hair, declaring, "You are the strong one now." With winter close at hand and Ireland already suffering, Grace is no longer safe at home. And so her mother outfits her in men's clothing and casts her out. When her younger brother Colly follows after her, the two set off on a remarkable odyssey in the looming shadow of their country's darkest hour.
The broken land they pass through reveals untold suffering as well as unexpected beauty. To survive, Grace must become a boy, a bandit, a penitent and, finally, a woman-all the while afflicted by inner voices that arise out of what she has seen and what she has lost.
Told in bold and lyrical language by an author who has already been called "one of his generation's very finest novelists" (Ron Rash, author of The Risen), Grace is an epic coming-of-age novel and a poetic evocation of the Irish famine as it has never been written.
'An epic tale of endurance, which in Lynch's deft hands is harrowing and simultaneously starkly beautiful' * Esquire (Best Books of 2017 So Far) * `A beautifully written novel, with a haunting story and deep echoes of the Ancients' * Edna O'Brien, author of The Little Red Chairs * `Lynch makes the page sing like the old masters' * Philipp Meyer, author of The Son * 'Lynch's wonderful third novel follows a teenage girl through impoverished Ireland at the height of the Great Famine...Lynch's powerful, inventive language intensifies the poignancy of the woe that characterizes this world of have-nothings struggling to survive.' * Publishers Weekly (starred review) * 'A gifted Irish author offers another take on his country's Great Famine through the eyes of a teenage girl as she travels through a land wracked by want....This is a writer who wrenches beauty even from the horror that makes a starving girl think her "blood is trickling over the rocks of my bones."' * Kirkus (starred review) * `The power of Paul Lynch's imagination is truly startling; his ability to inhabit and deeply understand the moments, both slight and shattering, of a life and of an era translates into an instinct not just for story, but for the most hidden, most forceful currents of language and what they can do.' * Belinda McKeon, author of Tender * `As McCarthy answered Faulkner, Lynch offers the most convincing answer to McCarthy that we've seen yet in literature. Lynch sacrifices none of the rigor and menace while summoning an emotional power that leaves one stunned at times. Grace is a novel of surpassing beauty and moral weight, and Lynch is a prodigious talent, with a sorcerer's command of the language and an extraordinary artistic integrity. This is a masterwork.' * Matthew Thomas, author of We Are Not Ourselves * `If you took the most overwhelming and distilled moments of a life - those instants when even a small brush of the wind over a stream seems to speak to the whole problem of living - and scattered them along an Irish riverside during that country's great famine, you might arrive at Grace. This is a major work of lasting, powerful feelings that might find a place amidst your memories of Light in August and Huckleberry Finn.' * Will Chancellor, author of A Brave Man Seven Storeys Tall * `A mesmerizing, incandescent work of art. It's all things together - a tragedy, an adventure, a romance, a coming-of-age, a searing exposition of historical truths; an interrogation of the nature of time and existence. Above all it's a perfect story, an exhilarating, Odyssean, heartpounding, glorious story, wrought by a novelist with the eye and the ear and the heart of an absolute master. Paul Lynch is peerless. Grace Coyle, daughter of Coll, will be one of the enduring heroines of world literature.' * Donal Ryan, Booker-nominated author of The Spinning Heart * `Grace is fierce wonder, a journey that moves with the same power and invention as the girl at its center. What Paul Lynch brings to these pages is more than mere talent--it's a searing commitment to story and soul, and in witnessing Grace's transformations, one can't help but feel changed too. This novel is faith, poetry, lament, and triumph; its mark is not only luminous, but it promises to never fade.' * Affinity Konar, author of Mischling * `From the savage scalp-shearing of its start, through pages of figurative and literal black, to the `good blue days' of its end, Grace is a thing of power and of wonder. Paul Lynch writes novels the way we need them to be written: as if every letter of every word mattered. This whole book is on fire.' * Laird Hunt, author of Neverhome * `One of his generation's very finest novelists' * Ron Rash, author of Serena *
Paul Lynch is the author of the novels Red Sky in Morning and The Black Snow. He won France's Prix Libr'a Nous for Best Foreign Novel, and was a finalist for the Prix du Meilleur Livre Etranger (Best Foreign Book Prize). He lives in Dublin with his wife and daughter. www.paullynchwriter.com