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The Whereabouts of Eneas McNulty Paperback – 1 Jun 2006

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Product details

  • Paperback: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Faber & Faber; Main edition (1 Jun. 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0571230148
  • ISBN-13: 978-0571230143
  • Product Dimensions: 12.6 x 2 x 19.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (46 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 65,859 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Sebastian Barry was born in Dublin in 1955. His plays include Boss Grady's Boys (1988), The Steward of Christendom (1995), Our Lady of Sligo (1998) and The Pride of Parnell Street (2007). His novels include The Whereabouts of Eneas McNulty (1998), Annie Dunne (2002), A Long Long Way (2005) and The Secret Scripture (2008). He has won, among other awards, the Irish-America Fund Literary Award, the Christopher Ewart-Biggs Prize, the London Critics Circle Award and the Kerry Group Irish Fiction Prize. A Long Long Way, which was also shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize and the Dublin International Impac Prize, was the Dublin: One City One Book choice for 2007. The Secret Scripture won the Costa Book of the Year Award, the Irish Book Awards for Best Novel and the Independent Booksellers Prize. It was shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize, Kerry Group Irish Fiction Award, Christopher Ewart-Biggs award and the James Tait Black Memorial Prize. He lives in Wicklow with his wife and three children.

Product Description

Amazon Review

These days, Frank McCourt would seem to have cornered the market on lyrical depictions of Celtic poverty. But never fear, Sebastian Barry--the brilliant Irish playwright, poet, and prose-wrangler--is here. His new novel, The Whereabouts of Eneas McNulty recounts the odyssey of a small-town innocent, who grows up in circumstances more bucolic, but no less threadbare, than McCourt's. It's clear from the very first paragraph, however, that Barry means to take a wide-angle view of his Irish urchin: "In the middle of the lonesome town, at the back of John Street, in the third house from the end, there is a little room. For this small bracket in the long paragraph of the street's history, it belongs to Eneas McNulty. All about him the century has just begun, a century some of which he will endure, but none of which will belong to him."

Having handily survived his Sligo childhood, Eneas joins the British Army in time for World War I-- and upon his return home, finds himself shunned as a collaborator. Tarred with this very Britannic brush, he goes one better and enlists in the Royal Irish Constabulary. Alas, this move only cements his fate as a marked man and his father is soon issued a warning: "Let your son keep out of Sligo if he wants to keep his ability to walk." With a price on his head, Eneas commences a life of wandering, from Mexico to Africa to Nigeria (which the moonlight, he notices, "brings closer to Ireland.") From time to time he sneaks back to Sligo and is promptly expelled.

In another author's hands, this epic of dislocation could well be a bitter one. Yet the stoical and simple-minded Eneas is surprisingly free of anguish and even his constant fear "has become something else, could he dare call it strength, a privacy anyhow." And the reader, at least, has the delightful distraction of Barry's prose, in which the occasional Joycean notes are entirely subsumed by the author's own colloquial brilliance. In the end, The Whereabouts of Eneas McNulty is less a novel than an exhibition of bardic fireworks--a latter-day Aeniad that's actually worthy of the name. --James Marcus, Amazon.com --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Review

'It's the language that seduces - you elegant, comical, tragical, musical. It's a symphony of a novel.' --Frank McCourt

'A novel that is tender, acerbic, necessary and potent.' --Colum McCann

'A powerful, unique book ... Sebastian Barry's language is utterly new and quite magnificent.' --Roddy Doyle

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Customer Reviews

4.2 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

70 of 71 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on 10 Aug. 1999
Format: Paperback
What an utterly engrossing read. The tale of Eneas McNulty's early years in turn of the century Sligo establishes an ordinary background against which his extraordinary adulthood is both shocking and absorbing. His days as a soldier in both world wars, a seafarer, policeman and occasional unwelcome returnee to his hometown is captivating enough as a story, but it is Barry's unusual use of language that often had me reading sentences several times over, in awe. Do not mistake this with any sentimental clap-trap about poverty stricken Ireland you may have read before. Sebastian Barry is the real thing.
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31 of 31 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on 1 Jan. 2000
Format: Paperback
Quite simply, a beautiful piece of writing. Barry exploits language and emotions to produce a novel which really forced me to examine all my beliefs and thoughts on life. The lonely character of Eneas could be any one of us!
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29 of 30 people found the following review helpful By hbw VINE VOICE on 19 Oct. 2008
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Set in familiar Sebastian Barry territory, this book explores the impact that the creation of an independent Ireland had on ordinary people who had the misfortune to find themselves on the "wrong" side.

Eneas McNulty is one of the many workless young men hanging around Sligo as peace returns to Europe following the First World War. It's a peace that doesn't extend to Ireland. In a decision that is little more than a whim, Eneas takes the only job he can find and joins the "peelers" (the Royal Irish Constabulary). Within a few months his name is on a death list and he is forced to leave his job, his family and his country.

The book tells Eneas' story from early childhood to old age. It's essentially about a man forced by fate to wander the Earth like some tragic Greek hero roaming the seas and battling with monsters. The wandering is real enough and there are plenty of man-made monsters to be confronted along the way: but Eneas' real tragedy is that he isn't a hero - he's just an ordinary bloke who wants to go home.

Barry's writing is, as always, of the highest order. The novel is, in many ways, a companion piece to A Long Long Way. Both novels changed my perception of Ireland and her people; both novels left me in tears (of anger, rather than sentiment). I've given this 4 stars, simply because A Long Long Way is the better novel and I wanted to make that distinction. Nevertheless, another first rate offering from Barry.
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful By K. P. Quinn on 31 Jan. 2009
Format: Paperback
The end of the this book has the feel of an elegy for all of humankind. Up to then it charts Eneas McNulty's lucky and unlucky journey through life. The humour and pathos vye for space on the page and the writing is vivid and thrilling. Even the fleeting characters are drawn with care. IN the end, it was hard not to cry at the sheer poetry and grace of Eneas's last act. Unforgettable.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Ms. M. M. L. Packwood on 11 Jun. 2010
Format: Paperback
Sebastian Barry is one of the greatest living Irish Writers today. The reasons for this is both his sensitivity and insight but also his ability to write in spoken Irish so as to convey both the feelings and information his characters wish to give. This book is a novel of homelessness and rootlessness bestowed on Eneas MacNulty because he did not conform to the demands of the Irish republicans in Sligo due to poverty. Seeking work and a meaningful life he joined the Constabulary and became a marked man. A death threat was issued which forced him to wander the world and instilled in him an intense nostalgia for Ireland and home. Eneas is the archetypal refugee never really committed to any of his jobs or places because all he wants to be is home. The author conveys to us as readers the passage of time which ages Eneas as each time he briefly returns others have grown older, friends and family and he realises that he will never have a family himself. He carries with him an extreme sadness and sense of drifting until he eventually accepts he can never again live in Sligo. Even so the death threat follows and haunts him. Barry has written a novel which portrays the irish refugee, as a stranger in a strange land. Much of that quality is in each and every irish man and woman who has had to leave ireland for work. Though they make their lives in another country whether England or America thoughts are always focussing on 'Home'. it is a blessed and gifted ability to be able to convey in words that sense of displacement and the accompanying nostalgia and melancholy which only the refugee knows. Marlene Packwood
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Lucifers Folly on 24 Oct. 2011
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This was my third Sebastian Barry novel - I read A Long Long Way and was instantly transfixed - so I am already a fan.

But this book is quite simply the best novel I have read since leaving university in 1982.
It is utterly bewitching in its unique, lyrical style. The elegance and poetry of the prose leave you captivated, moved, enthralled.
The central character Eneas is you and me - everyman. The charting of his life leaves you railing against the world on his behalf - the tragedy, the inevitable incursion of others and their bullying, petty squabbling, the dangers and terrors of men invested with too much dogma and not enough intellect to cope with it.
And then the longing for the streets and country around his home; the all too brief encounters with family and friends across the years; unfulfilled love - Eneas'frailty, his longing for the simple pleasure of being at home, are both heart-warming and full of anguish.

Barry is a genius - a phrase all too readily bandied about but how else can you describe him and do this book justice? In a literary world where his fellow countrymen Banville and Toibin are giants, to my mind Barry stands head and shoulders above them all.
And in The Whereabouts of Eneas McNulty he has created his finest novel to date.
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