John Kelly: Books of the Year

138 profound pages of horror and humanity

 

In A Meal in Winter, by Hubert Mingarelli (Portobello Books), charged with capturing “one of them” and bringing him back to camp, three German soldiers set off into the snow. Concerned mostly with their own cold, hunger and discomfort, the actual moral questions of what they are doing are finally confronted – over a meal. It is 138 profound pages of horror and humanity.

In Let Me Be Frank With You, by Richard Ford (Bloomsbury), we find Ford’s much-loved character Frank Bascombe still trying to make sense of it all, this time in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy. Four narratives, brilliantly realised. Set in Los Angeles during 23 days in 1941, Perfidia, by James Ellroy (William Heinemann), begins on the day before Pearl Harbor is attacked.

Young men who will later grow up to be characters in James Ellroy novels, including the Irish cop Dudley Smith, seize this eve-of-war moment to indulge in outrageous acts of murder, extortion, eugenics and unhealthy drinking.

From Out of the City, by John Kelly (Dalkey Archive Press), was shortlisted for Irish Novel of the Year at the Irish Book Awards
 

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