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On Canaan's Side

Author: 
Sebastian Barry
Publisher(s): 
Faber & Faber, London
Viking, New York
Publication Date: 
2011-08
Cover image of On Canaan's Side

"I seem to spend about nine months or a year getting the first chapter. I go at it again and again till it sounds okay, or right, or right enough. I sit there for weeks sometimes, like a crazy fool. It is like waiting for a ticket to go somewhere. I do believe I go slightly mad waiting. It seems to be something allied to catching the tune of something, the whistle tune, the birdsong of a book. Seasons pass! And then, suddenly, the book breaks from cover and risks the open ground. Then at some point I might have an intimation of the ending, and write that. The ending is the Ithaca of the book, and as Cavafy said, Ithaca gives you the journey. Otherwise I try to write straight through the book, because there is an inner logic in the DNA of sentences that you might miss if you were to patch sections together. And anyway I am at some point doing my best just to hold on to the mane of the book, as it starts to canter of its own volition."

- Sebastian Barry, in interview

Description

This is Sebastian Barry's seventh novel. It is narrated by 89-year old Lily Bere, sister of the protagonist Willy Dunne in Barry's 2005 novel A Long Long Way, and daughter of Thomas Dunne who is the focus of Barry's 1995 playThe Steward of Christendom. Barry has also written numerous plays, and two collections of poetry. 

 

Cover image of On Canaan's Side

Excerpts / e-editions:

Publisher(s):
Faber & Faber, London