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One of the most vivid and realised characters of recent fiction, Willie Dunne is the innocent hero of Sebastian Barry’s highly acclaimed novel. Leaving Dublin to fight for the Allied cause as a member of the Royal Dublin Fusiliers, he finds himself caught between the war playing out on foreign fields and that festering at home, waiting to erupt with the Easter Rising. Profoundly moving, intimate and epic, A Long Long Way charts and evokes a terrible coming of age, one too often written out of history.
‘A stunning achievement … Barry has written one of the most moving fictional accounts of war that surely must rank alongside those real-life testimonies of Owen and Sasson.’ Sunday Tribune
‘The story grips, shocks and saddens; but most importantly refuses to be forgotten.’ The Times
‘In darkly beautiful, inventive and evocative prose Barry tells the filthy truths of war.’ Ireland on Sunday
‘With disarming lyricism, Barry’s novel leads the readers into a hellish no-man’s-land, where the true madness of war can only be felt and understood rather than said.’ Observer
‘[It] passionately documents a period of collective sacrifice and courage across Europe and beyond, as well as momentous political upheaval in Ireland.’ Time Out
‘The most remarkable shared imaginative universe in Irish writing belongs to the poet, playwright and novelist Sebastian Barry who, like an archaeologist, has slowly and deftly delved back through his myriad ancestors to let them breathe again … A Long Long Way is a major novel … perhaps his greatest work.’ Dermot Bolger, Sunday Independent
‘It is more mature, more modulated, more quietly challenging than any of his fiction heretofore, A Long Long Way therefore deserves to win for Barry a renewed attention.’ Irish Times
‘A deeply moving story of courage and fidelity’ J M Coetzee
‘Many say Sebastian Barry writes like an angel and they are right, provided they remember he is on the side of the angels that fell. He shares his longing that his heroes might roar with a horrified I will not serve. But they do serve and are destroyed. Then his sympathy overwhelms, as it does in A Long Long Way. A possessed, powerful novel.’ Frank McGuinness
‘This is Sebastian Barry’s song of innocence and experience, composed with poetic grace and an eye, both unflinching and tender, for savage detail and moments of pure beauty. It is also an astonishing display of Barry’s gift for creating a memorable character, whom he has written, indelibly, back into a history which continues to haunt us.’ Colm Tobin
‘The story of young Willie Dunne, caught between the competing and irreconcilable loyalties of family, faith and fatherland, is tragic – as indeed the stories of so many young Irishmen who joined up in 1914 must have been, whether they died or lived. But even more powerful is Sebastian Barry’s prose, which fuses the vernacular with the poetic, in a way that is lyrical and yet entirely apt. Willie Dunne’s voice, like his dilemmas, has the resonance of authenticity.’ Hew Strachan, author of The First World War
‘As always, I enjoyed the way in which Barry tells the Irish story from a reverse angle, from the un-easy, anti-heroic point of view. He proves once again that the artist makes the best historian, and that the tragic figures who are wrong-footed by history, provide the most compelling account of the past.’ Hugo Hamilton
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