An Englishman and a Frenchman travel to a remote Irish island… no, this is not a joke; it is a concise summary of “The Colony” by Audrey Magee. The book’s setting is a small island in the Atlantic populated mainly by fishermen where an English painter and a French artist – each with a rather impressive ego – arrive seeking solitude and authenticity (while, in reality, only ready to see clichés). It is a multi-layered and unhurried book that delves into questions of colonialism, as well as different and conflicting perspectives on art, language and culture.
Mr Lloyd has decided to travel to the island by boat without engine – the authentic experience.
Unbeknownst to him, Mr Masson will also soon be arriving for the summer. Both will strive to encapsulate the truth of this place – one in his paintings, the other with his faithful rendition of its speech, the language he hopes to preserve.
But the people who live here on this rock – three miles long and half-a-mile wide – have their own views on what is being recorded, what is being taken and what is given in return. Over the summer each of the women and men in the household this French and Englishman join is forced to question what they value and what they desire. At the end of the summer, as the visitors head home, there will be a reckoning.
Praise and awards
Longlisted for 2022 Booker Prize
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