Beyond the Sea, the fourth novel from Irish writer Paul Lynch, was published on 29 August 2019 to much critical acclaim in the Irish press and beyond. Based partly on true events, Beyond the Sea tells the story of two South American fishermen, Bolivar and Hector, who go to sea before a catastrophic storm. When they are stranded at sea, they must push pushing against their physical and mental limits to stay alive.
In The Guardian, M John Harrison wrote: “… the scale of it, the extremity of it and the poetry of it are what Paul Lynch is going to show you…. Contemporary Irish fiction prizes delivery, daring and an implicit trust in the reader: Lynch demonstrates a control over his ideas that comes from a pure lyrical telling, a speech act that, if you let it, will take you anywhere. Beyond the Sea is frightening but beautiful.” The Irish edition of The Sunday Times wrote: “[Lynch’s] novels are artistic creations… and Beyond the Sea is based on an extraordinary true story…. Lynch’s concern is not only the minutiae of survival or men battling the elements, although his account of these is exciting and persuasive. His main interest lies in the existential struggle within: how men handle themselves in extremis… His fourth novel has echoes of Melville, Dostoyevsky and William Golding… But the literary work it most invokes is Coleridge’s The Rime of the Ancient Mariner, with its theme of crime and punishment.” At The Sunday Business Post, John Walshe called the novel, “a haunting, dreamlike novel”, “[with] a metaphysical, Beckett-esque bent… [and] echoes of Gabriel García Márquez…” At The Scotsman, Roger Cox said the novel had, “the timeless aura and allegorical undertones of an ancient Greek myth….This is a book that will leave you feeling thoroughly wrung out by the final page, but also happy to be alive”. In a review in The Irish Independent, Hilary A White said, “Such an aching sense of spaciousness feels in the spirit of its exotic setting, of Latin American sensualists such as Paolo Coelho or Pablo Neruda, or the deep eastern wisdoms of Hermann Hesse… Beyond the Sea deserves a special place in Lynch’s increasingly fascinating and diverse catalogue”. At RTE.ie, Grace Keane wrote, “Lynch triumphed with Grace, his penultimate, Famine-themed novel and he does so again with Beyond the Sea. Fantastically written, a truly magnificent portrayal of the gritty battle between despair and hope.” Meanwhile, Hot Press said, “Paul Lynch is rightly considered one of Ireland’s rising literary stars…Beyond The Sea acts as parable: about hope vs despair and man vs nature (with subtle climate change warnings running throughout). It’s also a heart-rending story about relationships and redemption.”