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The Blackwater Lightship

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1999 Short-listed

Man Booker Prize


07 March 08


Set in Ireland in the 1990s, Colm Tóibín's The Blackwater Lightship tells the story of the Devereux family. Dora Devereux, her daughter Lily and her granddaughter Helen – have come together after years of strife and reached an uneasy truce. Helen’s adored brother Declan is dying. Two friends join him and the women in a crumbling old house by the sea, where the six of them, from different generations and with different beliefs, must listen and come to terms with one another.

In the media

We shall be reading and living with The Blackwater Lightship in twenty years.
Independent on Sunday
It is in his emotional choreography that Tóibín shows himself to be an exceptional writer. Helen is estranged from both her mother and grandmother . . . Tóibín helps them make peace – and he does it beautifully.
Sunday Telegraph
He writes in spare, powerful prose and he is truly perceptive about family relationships which, at times, makes reading his stories incredibly painful. But this is a beautiful novel.
Belfast News