Beatlebone

Publisher: Knopf Canada
A searing novel that blends truth and fiction--and Beatles fandom--from one of literature's most striking contemporary voices, author of the international sensation City of Bohane.
     It is 1978, and John Lennon has escaped New York City to try to find the island off the west coast of Ireland he bought nine years prior. Leaving behind domesticity, his approaching forties, his inability to create, and his memories of his parents, he sets off to find calm in the comfortable silence of isolation. But when he puts himself in the hands of a shape-shifting driver full of Irish charm and dark whimsy, what ensues can only be termed a magical mystery tour.
     Based on fact--Lennon really did own an island in Ireland; and he truly did spend time there in the months just before his untimely death--this is a story such as only an extraordinary Irish writer could tell.

PRAISE FOR

WINNER 2015 – Goldsmiths Prize

“One of this novel’s great achievements is Barry’s representation of the twisting, hysterical difficulty of the creative process, reflected in the novel’s own play on forms…. Beatlebone…is a profound, mad and intriguing novel.” —Literary Review
 
“Casually lyrical, formally inventive, funny and moving, [Beatlebone] is a small wonder…. As ever with Barry, the dialogue is a joy, tapping into a rich vein of humorous melancholy….You have to be a very good writer to reveal the puppet master at work and still keep the puppets themselves looking lifelike, but Barry makes it work…. To make Lennon convincing on the page—charming and funny, spiky and vulnerable—is a particular achievement.” The Sunday Times
 
“Mingling surreal black humour and breakdown, Beatlebone is a wild cascade of language and imagery, rich in wordplay and referential resonance.” The Spectator
 
“[Beatlebone is] a gloriously freewheeling tale imagining an attempt by John Lennon to visit the island he had bought off the coast of Mayo in 1967…. A tale of fame, freaks, bad liquor and bad weather, with Lennon—angry, brilliant, sarcastic, tender, on a doomed quest for artistic release and his Irish roots—at its centre.”The Guardian
 
“Superb.... Beatlebone is a novel of necessary invention: profound, funny, hard to pin down. The demanding spirit of Dermot Healy is abroad in these pages, but the execution is all Barry’s own. He doesn’t fail.” The Irish Times

"A famous musician's 1978 pilgrimage to an island off the west coast of Ireland takes several detours, abetted by his memories and his minder, in this original, lyrical, genre-challenging work... Nothing at all like Barry's award-winning debut novel, this may be a risky follow-up, but it's intriguing at every turn, and Barry's prose can be as mesmerizing as some of his hero's songs."
Kirkus Reviews, starred review

"Beautiful: half prose, half song … reminding us how writing merges memory and imagination to connect the living and the dead."
Publishers Weekly
 
"Lennon sets out to find an island he purchased nine years earlier, in a bid to get the solitude he needs to break out of a creative rut. His odyssey appears to be going according to plan – until, that is, he meets a charming, shape-shifting taxi driver."
The Millions (The Great Second-Half 2015 Book Preview)

"Barry, a great poet of a novelist...has created an unusual novel, remarkable in structure as well as tone, that channels the contradictory nature of Lennon himself."
Booklist, starred review