Ithaca

Alan McMonagle

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09 March 2017
9781509829866
0 pages
Synopsis

Longlisted for the 2017 Desmond Elliott Prize

'Alan McMonagle possesses a style that is all his own and I found his first novel compelling from start to finish. Read it.' Patrick McCabe, author of The Butcher Boy

Ithaca, the ferociously funny and unbelievably poignant debut novel from Alan McMonagle, combines a fiercely emotional story with crackling prose.

Summer 2009, and eleven-year-old Jason Lowry is preoccupied with thoughts of the Da he has never known. In the meantime, his vodka-swilling, swings-from-the-hip Ma is busy entertaining her latest boyfriend and indulging her fondness for joyriding.

Jason escapes to the Swamp: a mysteriously rising pool of fetid water on the outskirts of the town. There, he meets the girl, a being as lost as himself. Together, they conjure exotic adventures - from ancient Egypt to the search for Ithaca, home of Odysseus. But what begin as innocent flights of fancy soon become forays into hazardous territory; the girl is a dangerous (and very committed) partner in crime.

Its exuberance and punch are beguiling. [Jason's] relationship with his ma is bedevilled by his lack of understanding, his observation of the adult world is often very funny indeed, and there’s a poignancy and depth that give Jason’s odyssey that extra fillip.

Daily Mail

A fierce and funny novel that tackles tough topics with great imaginative flair. Ithaca doesn’t take itself too seriously, and is all the more affecting for it . . . Jason’s jaunts around town are reminiscent of Francie Brady in The Butcher Boy – young bucks who are wonderful mimics of adult mannerisms while simultaneously struggling to understand the intricacies and injustices of the grown-up world . . . For Jason and his friend the exotic Ithaca offers refuge and new beginnings. Skilfully meshing imagination with reality, McMonagle sets out to discover if the same things can be found at home. The novel belongs to Jason and his Ma, who, through an epic journey of adversity, manage to find their way back to each other

Irish Times