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The Black Snow reviews

Reviews for The Black Snow are starting to appear. The latest is from Theo Dorgan at The Sunday Times who calls the book “masterful” and “a considerable achievement”.

Says Dorgan, “Lynch is masterful. Layer by layer he teases out character and context, alternating action and reflection to get to the essences of Barnabas, Eskra and Billy, the growing horror of their plight, their interlinked tragic destinies…. This is a considerable achievement in itself, and if the story were told plainly and simply we would have a story that John McGahern, say, or Frank O’Connor in one of his colder moments could have written.

“The triumph of this book is the uncanny uses to which Lynch puts language. Prose is more often concerned to reassure us that the world is manageable and intelligible than it is to face up to the cold truth that life beyond our immediate hearth is largely mysterious and beyond our powers of comprehension. Prose writers who can ground us in what we know while opening our minds to the vast unknown are few. In our time the name that springs most readily to mind is Cormac McCarthy… we can add Paul Lynch to a short list. In paragraphs that have the icy precision of prose poems, he opens the world out into halls of space and time that will send shivers through your blood…. I read this book sentence by sentence, sounding the words to myself, savouring the pleasure of the writing. It is the writing itself, not the bare circumstances of the story, that nerves us to face the cold place to which Lynch, with uncanny mastery, conducts us.”

Meanwhile, The Sunday Business Post says, “The Black Snow underlines the extent of Lynch’s dazzling prose gifts”, and calls the book “a terrific contemporary example of the art form”.

“Lynch is a born storyteller, wonderfully conveying textures, atmospheres and smells… He very effectively captures the ravages of a more pastoral scene of devastation, and in the process, manages to reinvent the pastoral novel in a daring and nuanced way. Lynch already shows all the signs of being one of the most exciting new talents in Irish literature.”

In a short review, London’s Metro, said The Black Snow is “hewed from granite-like, starkly poetic prose” and calls the book “a tough and sinewy tragedy”.

In the Guardian, Hugo Hamilton calls the book “raw, savage… tender”. “Lynch has an impressive gift for storytelling. As the separate strings of the novel are tightened and pulled together into an assured ending, this becomes a version of Donegal that has not been written before. The Irish vernacular is here, in all its intonation, but it almost sounds like a distant, musical echo of itself, as though the language in which the story is being told has travelled across the plains of America, through many other time zones, before taking root again in the native soil.”

In The Irish Times, Eilis NoDhuibhne calls the book, “powerful, rich and ornate”, and says Barnabas is “a classic tragic hero”. “The striking talent of its author is his ability to reinvent the English language and use words as no one has before… There is a magic to this kind of writing”.

This article will be updated as reviews come in.

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