Sabina Higgins: ‘Harvesting’ is a really important book that needs to be widely read
Authors give their verdict on Lisa Harding’s debut novel
Sabina Higgins at the FirstLight ‘Mile in Memory Walk’ in St Anne’s Park, Dublin. Photograph: Nick Bradshaw
I am so pleased The Irish Times is making Harvesting their book of the month for November. This is a really important book that needs to be widely read and taken note of.
Beautifully written by Lisa Harding, Harvesting is a shocking and gripping fiction based on the real first-hand accounts of young girls trafficked into the sex trade in Ireland.
This wonderful book records a hidden world of horror and pain that is hard to believe exists in modern Ireland, but which sadly is a stark reality for so many.
The horror and pain experienced in being present in the lives of these women is matched by the utter helplessness one feels at now knowing this is a reality and yet not knowing what to do about it. One wonders how can it be so covered up and protected that it continues. What is to be done?
Trafficked into sex slavery with the collusion of those from whom they might have expected care, the story of these two young girls should be taken as a call to act in ending this cruelty and to which we should respond at every level.
Lisa Harding is a gifted writer, and I feel so indebted to her for opening our eyes and hearts to this great suffering.
Sabina Coyne Higgins
A novel which shines a light on some of the darkest corners of contemporary life and finds there extraordinary humanity, great hope amid the heartache. Harvesting is beautiful at the level of the sentence, profoundly moving and completely gripping. One of the best debut novels of recent years.
Alex Preston, author of This Bleeding City
Harvesting is an important debut by a multi-talented author. Important because of the impressive skill with which it is written, and important because the author has had the bravery to deal with a subject as difficult as the subject of sex trafficking. In the hands of a less talented writer the subject alone could have led to the delivery of a moral lecture, instead of a compelling work of literary fiction. But, in Harding’s hands, all the characters - including characters for whom we have nothing but contempt - are multi-dimensional and human. By the time we finished reading this book, the girls especially felt as if they could be members of our own families. We fully understood the complicated process that had resulted in them living the lives they were forced to live, and, without being lectured at all, knew that action had to be taken.’
Jane Urquhart, author of The Stone Carvers
Harvesting is a powerful and utterly absorbing novel. Lisa Harding is a compelling new voice who doesn’t shirk from exploring the darker aspects of human existence. Her writing is vivid, haunting and always mindful of the humanity of her characters.
Danielle McLaughlin, author of Dinosaurs On Other Planets
Harvesting is shocking – and shockingly good. It is thought-provoking, anger-provoking, guilt-provoking … a brilliantly written novel.
None of us thinks that slavery and sex-trafficking happens on our doorstep. It’s always over there or behind that door or on the other side of the world. In Harvesting, we get to see how close it all it is and that for me is one of the strengths of this book. I loved Lisa Harding’s understated prose, the dark humour and absolute ring of truth. This is a book and a subject you can’t turn away from, an important work.
Kit de Waal, author of My Name is Leon
Lisa Harding shows us the world through the eyes of two children, innocents who are betrayed and sold into a dark, sinister and repulsive society of sexual abuse and prostitution, while the establishment looks the other way. Harding’s writing is fast, funny, excoriating, brave and as raw as a peeled eyeball. Harvesting is a highly original masterpiece.
Liz Nugent, author of Skin Deep
[Harvesting] is beautiful and harrowing … an important book … if you’re looking for a literary read, this is the book for you. It’s wonderful. I would recommend it highly.
Sometimes 21st-century fiction looks like the idle pursuit of the privileged, the trust-funded, the spiritually oblivious. Then there are books like Harvesting, which bristles with the anger of the wronged and the forgotten. Lisa Harding’s prose is visceral, indignant and, above all else, humane.
Peter Murphy, author of John the Revelator
Page by page, Harvesting tenderly howls with beauty and courage. In society’s rotten cavities where secrets fester, Harding’s light fixes firmly upon the maggots with a guttural rage.
Karl Geary, author of Montpellier Parade
Lisa Harding will be discussing her work with Laura Slattery of The Irish Times, this Thursday, November 15th, at 7pm, in the Irish Writers Centre, 19 Parnell Square, Dublin 1. It will be available to listen to on irishtimes.com on November 30th.