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Niall Williams was born in 1958 and lives in Kiltumper, Ireland, with his wife Christine and their two children. he is the author of a number of novels including Four Letters of Love, which was sold in over twenty countries and an international bestseller.
Photograph: Liam Burke of Press 22
Longlisted for The Man Booker Prize 2014. We are our stories. We tell them to stay alive or keep alive those who only live now in the telling. In Faha, County Clare, everyone is a long story...Bedbound in her attic room beneath the falling rain, in the margin between this world and the next, Plain Ruth Swain is in search of her father. To find him, enfolded in the mystery of ancestors, Ruthie must first trace the jutting jaw lines, narrow faces and gleamy skin of the Swains from the restless Reverend Swain, her great-grandfather, to grandfather Abraham, to her father, Virgil - via pole-vaulting, leaping salmon, poetry and the three thousand, nine hundred and fifty eight books piled high beneath the two skylights in her room, beneath the rain. The stories - of her golden twin brother Aeney, their closeness even as he slips away; of their dogged pursuit of the Swains' Impossible Standard and forever falling just short; of the wild, rain-sodden history of fourteen acres of the worst farming land in Ireland - pour forth in Ruthie's still, small, strong, hopeful voice.
This is a subtle, meditative and beautifully written book rich in emotion and the perfect read to leave you with a warm glow this winter. Jim Foley begins a love letter to his wife, hoping the words he writes will bring her closer to him. Retracing the journey of his life, from childhood in County Clare to early adulthood in America, and eventually back to Ireland again, this is a story of desire, of stolen books, missed moments and contemporary fatherhood. After half a lifetime of loss and grief, it is through the written word alone that Jim now places his trust so that love lost can be refound and restored. Only say the Word is a haunting, intimate testament to the enduring nature of love.Comparison: Dermot Bolger, Jennifer Johnston, Simon Mawer.Similar this month: None but try Marya Hornbacher or Francis Cottam.