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Reading in the Dark

A Novel

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Paperback published by Vintage (Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group)

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About This Book
A New York Times Notable Book
Winner of the Guardian Fiction Prize
Winner of the Irish Times Fiction Award and International Award

"A swift and masterful transformation of family griefs and political violence into something at once rhapsodic and heartbreaking. If Issac Babel had been born in Derry, he might have written this sudden, brilliant book."
--Seamus Heaney

Hugely acclaimed in Great Britain, where it was awarded the Guardian Fiction Prize and short-listed for the Booker, Seamus Deane's first novel is a mesmerizing story of childhood set against the violence of Northern Ireland in the 1940s and 1950s.

The boy narrator grows up haunted by a truth he both wants and does not want to discover. The matter: a deadly betrayal, unspoken and unspeakable, born of political enmity. As the boy listens through the silence that surrounds him, the truth spreads like a stain until it engulfs him and his family. And as he listens, and watches, the world of legend--the stone fort of Grianan, home of the warrior Fianna; the Field of the Disappeared, over which no gulls fly--reveals its transfixing reality. Meanwhile the real world of adulthood unfolds its secrets like a collection of folktales: the dead sister walking again; the lost uncle, Eddie, present on every page; the family house "as cunning and articulate as a labyrinth, closely designed, with someone sobbing at the heart of it."

Seamus Deane has created a luminous tale about how childhood fear turns into fantasy and fantasy turns into fact. Breathtakingly sad but vibrant and unforgettable, Reading in the Dark is one of the finest books about growing up--in Ireland or anywhere--that has ever been written.
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A New York Times Notable Book
Winner of the Guardian Fiction Prize
Winner of the Irish Times Fiction Award and International Award

"A swift and masterful transformation of family griefs and political violence into something at once rhapsodic and heartbreaking. If Issac Babel had been born in Derry, he might have written this sudden, brilliant book."
--Seamus Heaney

Hugely acclaimed in Great Britain, where it was awarded the Guardian Fiction Prize and short-listed for the Booker, Seamus Deane's first novel is a mesmerizing story of childhood set against the violence of Northern Ireland in the 1940s and 1950s.

The boy narrator grows up haunted by a truth he both wants and does not want to discover. The matter: a deadly betrayal, unspoken and unspeakable, born of political enmity. As the boy listens through the silence that surrounds him, the truth spreads like a stain until it engulfs him and his family. And as he listens, and watches, the world of legend--the stone fort of Grianan, home of the warrior Fianna; the Field of the Disappeared, over which no gulls fly--reveals its transfixing reality. Meanwhile the real world of adulthood unfolds its secrets like a collection of folktales: the dead sister walking again; the lost uncle, Eddie, present on every page; the family house "as cunning and articulate as a labyrinth, closely designed, with someone sobbing at the heart of it."

Seamus Deane has created a luminous tale about how childhood fear turns into fantasy and fantasy turns into fact. Breathtakingly sad but vibrant and unforgettable, Reading in the Dark is one of the finest books about growing up--in Ireland or anywhere--that has ever been written.
Product Details
Paperback (256 pages)
Published: February 24, 1998
Publisher: Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group
Imprint: Vintage
ISBN: 9780375700231
Other books bySeamus Deane
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    The Year of the French
    In 1798, Irish patriots, committed to freeing their country from England, landed with a company of French troops in County Mayo, in westernmost Ireland. They were supposed to be an advance guard, followed by other French ships with the leader of the rebellion, Wolfe Tone. Briefly they triumphed, raising hopes among the impoverished local peasantry and gathering a group of supporters. But before long the insurgency collapsed in the face of a brutal English counterattack. Very few books succeed in registering the sudden terrible impact of historical events; Thomas Flanagan’s is one. Subtly conceived, masterfully paced, with a wide and memorable cast of characters, The Year of the French brings to life peasants and landlords, Protestants and Catholics, along with old and abiding questions of secular and religious commitments, empire, occupation, and rebellion. It is quite simply a great historical novel. Named the most distinguished work of fiction in 1979 by the National Book Critics’ Circle.

    Contemporary Irish Culture and Politics

    Contemporary Irish Culture and Politics

    Nationalism, Colonialism, and Literature

    Nationalism, Colonialism, and Literature

    Selected Plays of Brian Friel

    Selected Plays of Brian Friel

Favorite QuotesFROM THIS BOOK
  • On the stairs, there was a clear, plain silence.

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  • That evening we would take my father to the cathedral that hung in the stair window and she would climb to her bedroom in silence, pausing at the turn of the stairs to stare out at the...

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