A Family History
By Joseph O'Neill
(Vintage, Paperback, 9780307472953, 352pp.)
Publication Date: October 5, 2010
Other Editions of This Title: Paperback
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From the bestselling and PEN/Faulkner Award-winning author of Netherland, a fascinating, personal, and beautifully crafted family history.
Joseph O'Neill's grandfathers--one Turkish, one Irish--were both imprisoned for suspected subversion during the Second World War. The Irish grandfather, a handsome rogue from a family of small farmers, was an active member of the IRA. O'Neill's other grandfather, a debonair hotelier from the tiny and threatened Turkish Christian minority, was interned by the British in Palestine on suspicion of being an Axis spy.
With intellect, compassion, and grace, O'Neill sets the stories of these individuals against the history of the last century's most inhuman events.
Joseph O'Neill was born in Cork, Ireland, in 1964 and grew up in Mozambique, South Africa, Iran, Turkey, and Holland. His works include the novels Netherland, which won the PEN/Faulkner Award for fiction and the Kerry Group Irish Fiction Award, This Is The Life, and The Breezes. He writes regularly for The Atlantic Monthly. He lives with his family in New York City.
"A superbly composed double-narrative....An extraordinary piece of detective work." -Esquire
"Essential reading....A fascinating exploration of the personal complexities and private intimacies that lie behind a crude word like 'terrorism.'" -The New York Review of Books
“An extraordinary book. . . . As thrilling as a murder trial. . . . The progress of [O’Neill’s] investigations are imbued with all the darkening excitement of a novel by le Carré or Greene.” —Times Literary Supplement (London)
“A gripping detective story, a thoughtful enquiry into nationalism, and a moving evocation of world war at the edges of its European theatre.” —The Economist (London)
“Joseph O’Neill’s voice in this book is often intimate and engaging, like someone whispering fascinating secrets, but it is also at times a public voice, deeply involved with the silences and lies which have surrounded the past and distorted the present in both Turkey and Ireland. O’Neill is a born story-teller with a sharp eye, a great style and a good wit. His sense of modern Ireland, with all its ghosts and contradictions, is superb.” —Colm Tóibín
“A stealthy, evidential enterprise, it stalks its material, considers, reassesses and chews over the theories. It is a big cat of a book. It creeps up on you, then pounces. And once it has you in its grip, it doesn’t let go in a hurry.” —Evening Standard (London)
“Every word in this riveting book is carefully freighted. Unlike many books which claim to trace a ‘journey,’ Blood-Dark Track achieves its ambition, leaving teller and listener at the end with a haunting sense of having arrived somewhere new.” —The Times (London)
“Painfully honest and lucid. . . . Joseph O’Neill writes beautifully. The fascination of this book lies in watching him come to terms with the violence in his family’s past.” —Daily Mail (London)
“The book has certainly worked hard to earn the reconciliation it finally imagines. It is too honest to get what it hopes for; too uncertain to know for sure what it is that has to be reconciled or forgiven. In its very unease, it is a remarkable book.” —Irish Times (Ireland)
“The story [O’Neill] tells here yields much evidence of [his] quickness of mind, analytical skill, contemplative ability and sheer endurance. But the book’s greatest triumph is the delicate, sympathetic peeling back of layer after layer of two families before and after they overlap.” —Observer (London)
“This is a beautifully written and complicated book, in which difficult perceptions are expressed with forensic honesty. Its author finds that he cannot quite define his elusive grandfathers, and their moralities; but he has certainly comer closer to defining himself, and his.” —Sunday Telegraph (London)
“The premise for this book is a simple and utterly compelling one; a commonality that brings two heterogenous places and cultures and lives together. The fruit of those parallel journeys is a remarkable book, almost novelistic in form and in style. [O’Neill] is a born writer . . . with a gorgeous sense of history and emotion and timbre.” —Sunday Tribune (Ireland)
“[O’Neill’s] thoroughness and energy are phenomenal.” —London Review of Books
“[O’Neill] uncovers fascinating parallels between the two men, illuminating the ways in which individual lives mesh with history.” —Sunday Times (London)
“A moving account, judiciously mixing familial feelings with historical research to powerful effect.” —New Statesman (London)