In the Province of Saints

IN THE PROVINCE LARGEIn the south of Ireland, just beyond the town of New Rowan, young Michael McDonagh is growing up fast. The same families have lived in his village for generations, harbouring old loyalties and even older hatreds, and a person’s name casts a long shadow. Sometimes it seems that strangers know more about Michael than he knows about himself. Surrounded by the rough-hewn, often bloodied, hard-drinking men of the town, Michael longs for his father, gone off to work in America. He cares for his mother, racked by spells that put her somewhere between this world and the next. And he becomes involved with Cait, a local girl who hides a dark past of her own. When Cait’s mother dies suddenly, Michael’s father returns home, and a long dormant scandal is reignited.


Voted by the New York Public Library as one of the 25 Best Books of 2005 and included in their Books to Remember of 2005

Booklist Top 10 First Novels of 2005

“Beautifully written…A familiar Irish song, but the words will break your heart.”
—The New York Times Book Review

“A gorgeous and heartbreaking tale…so beautiful that you won’t miss a line. In one flawless paragraph after another, the most ordinary, pathetic and dismal moments are sanctified…a striking addition to what seems to be an ever-expanding collection of masterpieces about Ireland’s Troubles.”
— The Washington Post

“O’Malley writes with a wisdom that belies his youth. His words fall on the page with a steady grace…offers up the good, hard-earned beauty of language treated with the utmost reverence…The Irish cadence in this beautiful and tender novel will sing in your mind for a long while.”
— The Charlotte Observer

“O’Malley’s spectacular debut…serves up a remarkable cast of characters…While the story here is indeed quite captivating, it’s O’Malley’s prose that will keep readers in awe.  He is a remarkable new voice.”

“Like John McGahern’s masterly novel By the Lake, In the Province of Saints describes the changing of a country landscape as vividly as any painter — from the “sharp-sweet smell of honeysuckle and the scent of pending rain” to the “darkness at the bottom of the field through the dusk-mist.” What stands out, and what propels the reader along, is O’Malley’s unique lyricism and his gift for capturing spoken voices. His prose rings as beautiful and oddly shaped as anything since Dylan Thomas.”
—The Hartford Courant

“Told with hard, clear, gorgeous writing that grants unexpected vistas… it is through the workings of this miraculous prose that the novel – even amid the portrayal of terrible events and a landscape haunted by innumerable tragedies – never once loses its sense of beauty and of wonder.”
—Fairfield County Weekly

“O’Malley effectively captures both the timeless rhythms and of his native Ireland and its awkward struggles through a painful moment in time. O’Malley’s debut novel continues a tradition of visionary truth-speakers….”
—The Free Lance-Star

“What Thomas O’Malley has done in his debut novel, In the Province of Saints, is write a heartbreakingly beautiful work that perfectly melds Irish description and terse American prose. The bogs and snow are hazards so real the readers themselves are almost mucking around them.”
—Provincetown Banner

“O’Malley has succeeded in creating a novel of aching honesty. In the Province of Saints reminded me again of a most important merit in great literature: it recognizes life’s sorrows, and in doing so comforts our own.”

“While there have been many novels over the years that dealt with the theme of a son searching for a father figure, it’s been a while since the subject matter has been explored with the kind of powerful writing Thomas O’Malley brings to his debut novel, In the Province of Saints.”
—The Irish Emigrant

“Thomas O’Malley writes with the compassionate soul of a poet and the wisdom of an ancient. His narrator relates a life of rural hardship without a shred of self-pity. In the Province of Saints sings to the wounded heart”
—Chris Offutt,
author of No Heroes and Kentucky Straight

“Thomas O’Malley is a fiercely gifted writer. In the Province of Saints will haunt you for years.”
—Jennifer Haigh,
author of Baker Towers and Mrs. Kimble

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