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July 2017 Book of the Month.
Winner of the Walter Scott Prize for Historical Fiction 2017.
Winner of 2016 Costa Book of the Year and Winner of the Costa Novel Award 2016.
This big-hearted, beautiful and splendidly sweeping tale of war, survival and love in the American West is a storytelling masterpiece.
After losing his family to the famine, Irish boy Thomas McNulty crept aboard a ship bound for Canada and arrived as one of the unwelcome “rats of people”. In America, fate unites him with John Cole, a part Indian boy with “river-black eyes” and a “lean face as sharp as a hunting dog”. From the outset, Thomas knows that they’re “two wood-shavings of humanity in a rough world”, and John becomes his lifelong companion, his soulmate, his lover. As young boys, they find work as dancers in a saloon, dressing in women’s clothes to entertain the menfolk in a town bereft of women. When they grow too big to pass as girls, they join the US Cavalry. The horrors of massacres are intensely evoked, and so too is the tenderness between Thomas and John, and then between them and Winona, the Indian girl they form a family with. Thomas is a beguiling narrator, his voice warm with wisdom, and utterly unforgettable, as is this remarkable novel. That so much insight into the ways of the human heart has been distilled in so few pages is a truly extraordinary feat. ~ Joanne Owen
The Walter Scott Prize Judges said:
‘Intimate, lyrical, courteous, Barry offers the authentic voice of Thomas McNulty, a nineteenth century Irish-American possessed of a nineteenth century respect for both language and reader. In this tale of Indian War and American Civil War carnage, the voice is also, miraculously, the voice of love. The voice alone secures Days Without End a place on the shortlist for the Walter Scott Prize. And the story of course. Neither comfortable nor pretty, it pulses with courage, loyalty and, amid the horrors, grace. This is a living novel. From its pages, Thomas shakes the reader’s hand and the hand of every ragged soldier on our ragged streets.’
'Time was not something then we thought of as an item that possessed an ending, but something that would go on for ever, all rested and stopped in that moment. Hard to say what I mean by that. You look back at all the endless years when you never had that thought. I am doing that now as I write these words in Tennessee. I am thinking of the days without end of my life. And it is not like that now...' After signing up for the US army in the 1850s, aged barely seventeen, Thomas McNulty and his brother-in-arms, John Cole, go on to fight in the Indian wars and, ultimately, the Civil War. Having fled terrible hardships they find these days to be vivid and filled with wonder, despite the horrors they both see and are complicit in. Their lives are further enriched and imperilled when a young Indian girl crosses their path, and the possibility of lasting happiness emerges, if only they can survive.
|Publication date:||6th February 2017|
|Publisher:||Faber & Faber|
|Primary Genre||Modern and Contemporary Fiction|
Sebastian Barry was born in Dublin in 1955. His plays include The Steward of Christendom and The Pride of Parnell Street and his novels include The Whereabouts of Eneas McNulty, Annie Dunne, A Long Long Way and The Secret Scripture. A Long Long Way was shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize and the Dublin International Impac Prize, and was the Dublin: One City One Book for 2007. The Secret Scripture won the Costa Book of the Year award, the Irish Book Awards Best Novel, the Independent Booksellers Prize and the James Tait Black Memorial Prize and was shortlisted for the Man Booker ...More About Sebastian Barry