Motherland

Timothy O'Grady, Author
Timothy O'Grady, Author Henry Holt & Company $19.95 (230p) ISBN 978-0-8050-1230-9
Reviewed on: 03/01/1990
Release date: 03/01/1990
Like J. P. Donleavy, O'Grady is an American so splendidly able to render Irish eccentrics it's hard to believe he isn't to the mannerism born. This first novel, which won Britain's Higham Award last year, is a remarkable feat of history, narrative and characterization that ticks along like a perfect watch. Narrated by a grotesque and melancholy character, the novel opens with his search for his missing mother in the rooms of her Dublin flat where all he finds is a putrid dead tortoise and a furious neglected monkey, who becomes his companion. Her disappearance leads him on a quest that mirrors Ireland's own divided and paradoxical past. Sometimes mystical, frequently ironic, O'Grady's narrator speaks with a rare eloquence that gives this odyssey a grandeur seldom encountered in contemporary fiction. Rich, Byzantine plotting and writing that is often spellbinding should establish O'Grady's place in the canon of modern Irish literature, his Chicago origins notwithstanding. (Mar.)
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