the black snow (2014)
In the spring of 1945, farm-worker Matthew Peoples runs into a burning byre and does not come out alive. The farm’s owner, Barnabas Kane, can only look on as his friend dies and all 43 of his cattle are destroyed in the blaze.
Following the disaster, the bull-headed and proudly self-sufficient Barnabas is forced to reach out to the farming community for assistance. But resentment simmers over Matthew Peoples’ death, and Barnabas and his family begin to believe their efforts at recovery are being sabotaged.
Barnabas is determined to hold firm. Yet his son Billy struggles under the weight of a terrible secret, and his wife Eskra is suffocated by the uncertainty surrounding their future. And as Barnabas fights ever harder for what is rightfully his, his loved ones are drawn ever closer to a fate that should never have been theirs.
In The Black Snow, Paul Lynch takes the pastoral novel and – with the calmest of hands – tears it apart. With beautiful, haunting prose, Lynch illuminates what it means to be alive during crisis, and puts to the test our deepest certainties about humankind.
UK & Ireland: Quercus, 2014 | North America: Little, Brown 2015 | France: Albin Michel 2015 | Italy: 66th&2nd 2018
• Winner: Prix Libr’à Nous for Best Foreign Novel
• Winner: Prix des Lecteurs Privat
• Shortlisted: Ireland Francophonie Ambassadors’ Literary Award
• Nominated: Prix Femina
• Nominated: Prix du Roman Fnac
• Book of the month: Amazon.com
PRAISE FOR the black snow
“Lynch is masterful… 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”
— Theo Dorgan, The Sunday Times
“A brilliant, hypnotic book — you will lose yourself in the sounds and rhythms. Lynch makes the page sing like the old masters”.
— Philipp Meyer, Pulitzer-prize finalist and author of The Son
“Lynch establishes himself as one of his generation’s very finest novelists”
— Ron Rash, Pen-Faulkner Award winning author of Serena
“‘As Lynch presents the story, it becomes an out of the ordinary creation, a novel in which sentence after sentence come so beautifully alive in all of the fullness of its diction and meaning that it makes most other contemporary fiction seem dull by comparison… Lynch’s striking language, located somewhere between that of Irish Nobel poet Seamus Heaney and our own Cormac McCarthy, binds everything together — nature, character, time and the wild paradoxical aspiration of a novelist driven to try and make sense out of the inexplicable”
— Alan Cheuse, All Things Considered, NPR
“Paul Lynch’s The Black Snow is, like its predecessor, Red Sky in Morning, a fierce and stunning novel written in chiaroscuro… his literary sensibility an ornate version of the American Gothic of McCarthy and Faulkner”
— Emily Donaldson, The Toronto Star
“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”
— Hugo Hamilton, The Guardian
“Barnabas Kane 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”
— Éilís Ní Dhuibhne, The Irish Times
“Lynch evokes so many shades of guilt, pride, innocence, righteousness and punishment that the book might help found a religion…” ]
— Kirkus, starred review (US)
“Red Sky in Morning already showed the vast talent of Lynch. The Donegal native illustrates again with a second opus equally successful… a novel that grabs you from the start”
— Alexandre Fillon, Livres Hebdo (France)
“The hard, carnal, excessive, baroque and austere writing of Paul Lynch and his sculptural descriptions is of such a presence, of such violence that one is spellbound
— Télérama (France)
“Ferocious, lyrical language… crystalline, cinematic and also hypnotic and evocative. The writing seems to detach itself from matter and aim directly at the heart of emotion”
— La Repubblica (Italy)
“The most appropriate parallel, thanks to its stylistic complexity, is to be found in the novels of Faulkner… its refined style leaves a great deal to the imagination, and its search for meaning between the mystery and the mysterious make this a novel to be taken into account in the evolution of Irish fiction”
— Enrico Terrinoni, Il Manifesto, (Italy)