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From a Low and Quiet Sea - Donal Ryan

From a Low and Quiet Sea - Donal Ryan


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Our take

'From the Low and Quiet Sea' by Donal Ryan follows a refugee family fleeing Syria in pursuit of freedom. As Farouk and his family settle in Ireland, his narrative is interwoven with those of two other shattered men. The three storylines come together in the book's last part, revealing how these lives are intertwined. Donal Ryan paints the portraits of three men with empathy and compassion and brings their stories together in an unexpected and devastating way.

Publisher's description

For Farouk, family is all. He has protected his wife and daughter as best he can from the war and hatred that has torn Syria apart. If they stay, they will lose their freedom, will become lesser persons. If they flee, they will lose all they have known of home, for some intangible dream of refuge in some faraway land across the merciless sea.

Lampy is distracted; he has too much going on in his small town life in Ireland. He has the city girl for a bit of fun, but she’s not Chloe, and Chloe took his heart away when she left him. There’s the secret his mother will never tell him. His granddad’s little sniping jokes are getting on his wick. And on top of all that, he has a bus to drive; those old folks from the home can’t wait all day.

The game was always the lifeblood coursing through John’s veins: manipulating people for his enjoyment, or his enrichment, or his spite. But it was never enough. The ghost of his beloved brother, and the bitter disappointment of his father, have shadowed him all his life. But now that lifeblood is slowing down, and he’s not sure if God will listen to his pleas for forgiveness. Three men, searching for some version of home, their lives moving inexorably towards a reckoning that will draw them all together.

Praise and awards

Longlisted for the Man Booker Prize 2018
Shortlisted for the Costa Book Award

“Exquisitely rendered, with raw anguish sublimated into lyrical prose… [Ryan] weaves his three protagonists’ deceptively discrete trajectories together, creating a triptych of poignant and at times haunting stories.”—The Washington Post

“Donal Ryan writes within the venerable tradition of vernacular Irish literature, fashioning prose of spare, rough-cut beauty from the speech and thoughts of the working class… Ryan has a sensitive feel for the process of atonement, the gradual shifts in the human heart that steer his characters from wrongdoing or despair toward some form of redemption.”—Wall Street Journal

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