Old God's Time, by Sebastian Barry (Faber 2023)

Neil's picture

Sebastian Barry comes from a long and grand tradition of Irish writers, and he's probably one of the best currently writing. This is a fantastically melancholy novel, as only the Irish seem to be able to conjure, as a recently retired policeman looks back over his life experiences. Two former colleagues turn up at his house unexpectedly, with questions about a decades old case. Tom Kettle can barely remember the case, but it stirs old and uncertain memories. The novel is dreamlike as nothing is quite what it seems, and Barry is masterfully in control, allowing the reader just enough certainty about the events from the past, but allowing for some mystery. It's a haunting book, both sad and joyful. Expect awards for this during the next year.