Viking Books, Hardcover, 9780670024636, 275pp.
Publication Date: March 13, 2014
As he did so masterfully in the connected novellas of "The Hill Road," Patrick O Keeffe's first novel moves back and forth in time and place to weave the story of two Irish families forever linked by love, secrets, and their heritage.
James Dwyer was born in rural county Limerick before moving to Dublin as a teenager and ultimately settling in Ann Arbor. One night James's past appears in the form of a down-and-out man named Walter, who issues an invitation for James to come to Upstate New York to visit his old childhood neighbor, Kevin Lyons. Although neither James nor Kevin particularly cares for each other, there's no denying their complicated past. Kevin and James's sister, Tess, were lovers while James fell hard for Kevin's sister, Una.
Illuminating the precarious balance of family intimacies and how stories can carry over from one generation to the next, O Keeffe's "The Visitors "further delivers on the elegant prose and plotting that earned him critical acclaim and the Story Prize for "The Hill Road.
Advance Praise for The Visitors by Patrick O’Keeffe
“Delivers a devastating emotional wallop. . .The novel is heedless of time, meandering back and forth through James Dwyer’s life and the lives of his forbears. . .We learn, gradually, of the inextricable bonds between the Lyons family and the Dwyers back in in Country Limerick, about the affairs and tragedies of aunts, fathers, brothers, sisters. . .by the time all is revealed, the reader is captivated and moved.”—Publishers Weekly
“How well Patrick O'Keeffe knows the difficulties of leaving the past behind. I am full of admiration for his long view of history and family and the way he gradually reveals both in this wonderfully intelligent novel. The Visitors is a work of many pleasures.”—Margot Livesey
“In Patrick O'Keeffe's The Visitors, the past is constantly catching up to, and overtaking, the present, and the result is haunted and beautiful book that culminates in violence that's both inevitable and surprising. A wonderful first novel.”—Charles Baxter
“The tangle of family life—the perils of escape, the perils of staying—is written into a novel of rare emotional authenticity. Ireland and America keep offering eye-opening surprises here, as The Visitors--unsentimental, unflinching, poignant in the most convincing way--shows how home and the past keep changing their meanings.”—Joan Silber
“Patrick O’Keeffe’s first novel is a masterful one, moving deftly back and forth in time and place while evoking rural Ireland through musical prose. But at its heart The Visitors is the tale of a haunted man named James Dwyer, who discovers that no matter how far across the ocean he travels, he remains forever bound by love and memory to home.”—Amy Greene