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Ithaca by Alan McMonagle


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The Desmond Elliott Longlist 2017Longlisted for the Desmond Elliott Prize 2017.

Provocative, sharply witty and rather beautiful, Ithaca is a breathtaking read. 11 year old Jason, full of attitude and bravado seeks to escape the here and now of the world around him. The first sentence, paragraph, then chapter, roared into my mind, Jason tells his own story, his personality doesn't just light up the page, it sets fire to it. All of the characters teeter on the edge of being larger than life, Alan McMonagle fills them full of vivid colour, and zips the bulging seams tight. Words ganged up into one swaggering rioting mass and assaulted my senses. While laughing my soul weeped, while sitting in shock my fist pumped the air, I wanted to hug Jason tight, and as a piece of my heart broke apart, I handed it to him. ‘Ithaca’ filled me full of contrary feelings then gave them a good shake, what a wonderful, heart-breaking, mesmerising read this is. ~ Liz Robinson


Ithaca by Alan McMonagle

Ithaca, the ferociously funny and unbelievably poignant debut novel from Alan McMonagle, combines a fiercely emotional story with crackling prose. This was the summer after all the money disappeared. One minute it was here. The next it had vanished. All of it. Without trace ...Now that all the money had vanished everyone had their eyes and ears ready for all manner of doom. Summer 2009, and eleven-year-old Jason Lowry is preoccupied with thoughts of the Da he has never known. In the meantime, his vodka-swilling, swings-from-the-hip Ma is busy entertaining her latest boyfriend and indulging her fondness for joyriding. Jason escapes to the Swamp: a mysteriously rising pool of fetid water on the outskirts of the town. There, he meets the girl, a being as lost as himself, and with even less regard for reality. Together, they conjure exotic adventures - from ancient Egypt to the search for Ithaca, home of Odysseus. But what begin as innocent flights of fancy soon become forays into hazardous territory; the girl is a dangerous (and very committed) partner in crime.


'Ithaca more than confirms the promise shown by Alan McMonagle in his first book of short stories, Psychotic Episodes. He possesses a style that is all his own and I found his first novel compelling from start to finish. Read it.' -- Patrick McCabe, author of The Butcher Boy

'Fast and urgent and full of feeling and savage humour and all kinds of tenderness.' -- Kevin Barry, author of City of Bohane

'Strange and wondrous; savage with vision, leaping with wit and moving in ways that are quite impossible to shake off, Alan McMonagle's Ithaca is a stunner. A quest story with the wisdom of an epic and with the whip-smart energy of a brilliantly fresh and audacious new voice.' -- Belinda McKeon, author of Solace, winner of the Geoffrey Faber Memorial Prize

'Flawless prose and razor dialogue ... Mesmerising, unforgettable.' -- Donal Ryan, author of The Spinning Heart

'It's a stunner.' -- Edna O'Brien

'Splendid ... Sweet yet dark, odd yet true. Full of fierce, elegant, misguided longing, and so finely written that I came to care so much about Jason.' -- Sara Baume

'Right from its remarkable opening sentence, this extraordinary debut had me hooked. A fierce, funny, on-its-own-terms, beautiful, heartbreaker of a novel.' -- Joseph O'Connor

About the Author

Alan McMonagle has written for radio, published two collections of short stories - both of which were nominated for the Frank O'Connor Award - and contributed stories to many journals in Ireland and North America. He lives in Galway. Ithaca is his first novel.

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Book Info

Publication date

9th March 2017


Alan McMonagle

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Picador an imprint of Pan Macmillan


320 pages
Interest Age: From 18 years


Literary Fiction
All Shortlists and Winners
Family Drama
eBook Favourites
Relationship Stories

Modern & contemporary fiction (post c 1945)



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