Literary Programme 2018

Alan McMonagle

Alan McMonagle

Alan McMonagle

Bantry Bookshop

Tue 17 July 2018



Ithaca, the ferociously funny and unbelievably poignant debut novel from Alan McMonagle, combines a fiercely emotional story with crackling prose. It is the darkly comic story of how far a lonely boy will go to find what he's looking for, and how in searching for what we've lost, we risk losing sight of what we have.

This was the summer after all the money disappeared. One minute it was here. The next it had vanished. All of it. Without trace . . . Now that all the money had vanished everyone had their eyes and ears ready for all manner of doom.

Summer 2009, and eleven-year-old Jason Lowry is preoccupied with thoughts of the Da he has never known. In the meantime, his vodka-swilling, swings-from-the-hip Ma is busy entertaining her latest boyfriend and indulging her fondness for joyriding.

Jason escapes to the Swamp: a mysteriously rising pool of fetid water on the outskirts of the town. There, he meets the girl, a being as lost as himself, and with even less regard for reality. Together, they conjure exotic adventures - from ancient Egypt to the search for Ithaca, home of Odysseus. But what begin as innocent flights of fancy soon become forays into hazardous territory; the girl is a dangerous (and very committed) partner in crime.

Longlisted for the 2017 Desmond Elliott Prize

‘A fierce and funny novel that tackles tough topics with great imaginative flair. Ithaca doesn’t take itself too seriously, and is all the more affecting for it… Jason’s jaunts around town are reminiscent of Francie Brady in The Butcher Boy.Irish Times

‘It's a stunner.’ Edna O'Brien

‘Flawless prose and razor dialogue… Mesmerising, unforgettable.’ Donal Ryan

‘Splendid… Sweet yet dark, odd yet true. Full of fierce, elegant, misguided longing, and so finely written that I came to care so much about Jason.’ Sara Baume

‘Fast and urgent and full of feeling and savage humour and all kinds of tenderness.’ Kevin Barry

Alan McMonagle lives in Galway. Ithaca, his debut novel was published in 2017 and longlisted for the Desmond Elliott Award for first novels and shortlisted for a Bord Gáis Irish Book Award. He has published two collections of short stories Psychotic Episodes and Liar Liar, both of which were nominated for the Frank O'Connor Award. He also writes for radio and his plays, Oscar Night and People Walking On Water, have been produced and broadcast as part of RTÉ’s Drama on One season. He is currently completing a second novel.

Photo Credit: John Minihan