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Praised as "a work of wild, vaulting ambition and achievement" by Entertainment Weekly
, Jamie O'Neill's first novel invites comparison to such literary greats as James Joyce, Samuel Beckett and Charles Dickens.
Set during the year preceding the Easter Uprising of 1916--Ireland's brave but fractured revolt against British rule--At Swim, Two Boys
is a tender, tragic love story and a brilliant depiction of people caught in the tide of history. Powerful and artful, and ten years in the writing, it is a masterwork from Jamie O'Neill.
Jim Mack is a na ve young scholar and the son of a foolish, aspiring shopkeeper. Doyler Doyle is the rough-diamond son--revolutionary and blasphemous--of Mr. Mack's old army pal. Out at the Forty Foot, that great jut of rock where gentlemen bathe in the nude, the two boys make a pact: Doyler will teach Jim to swim, and in a year, on Easter of 1916, they will swim to the distant beacon of Muglins Rock and claim that island for themselves. All the while Mr. Mack, who has grand plans for a corner shop empire, remains unaware of the depth of the boys' burgeoning friendship and of the changing landscape of a nation.
The New York Times Book Review
A dangerous, glorious book: the kind that is likely to make absolutely anyone cry and laugh in public places.
A work of wild, vaulting ambition and achievement...Rich and allusive, blisteringly exuberant...one of the most psychologically accurate and moving love stories in recent literature.
In exquisitely sculpted prose, Jamie O'Neill...achieves a kind of richness of scope and ambition that makes one reluctant to come to its tragic and inevitable close.