An Evening with John Boyne & Sarah Moss
Sun 16 July
In two very different novels John Boyne and Sarah Moss have created state-of-the-nation works addressing important themes through the eyes of ordinary people.
John Boyne’s The Heart’s Invisible Furies is the story, told over the course of seventy years, of Cyril Avery who was born to an unmarried teenage girl in West Cork in the 1940s.
Cyril Avery is not a real Avery, or at least that’s what his adoptive parents tell him. And he never will be. But if he isn’t a real Avery, then who is he? Born out of wedlock to a teenage girl cast out from her rural West Cork community and adopted by a well-to-do if eccentric Dublin couple via the intervention of a hunchbacked Redemptorist nun, Cyril is adrift in the world, anchored only tenuously by his heartfelt friendship with the infinitely more glamourous and dangerous Julian Woodbead. At the mercy of fortune and coincidence, and struggling with his sexuality at a time where to be gay was to be a pariah, Cyril will spend a lifetime coming to know himself and where he came from – and over the course of his life will struggle to discover an identity, a home, a country and much more.
In this, John’s most transcendent work to date, we are shown the story of Ireland from the 1940s to today through the eyes of one ordinary man. The Heart’s Invisible Furies is a novel to make you laugh and cry while reminding us all of the redemptive power of the human spirit.
‘The Heart's Invisible Furies is epic, cinematic, poignant. It lingered long after I read the final words. It broke my heart in places, it pieced it together again in others.’ – RTE
‘An epic full of verve, humour and heart.’ – Irish Times
‘If this is a real heartbreaker of a novel, it is also hilarious... worthy of the great master of the Irish comic novel, Flann O’Brien. The Heart’s Invisible Furies proves that John is not just one of Ireland’s best living novelists but also one of the best novelists of Ireland.’ – The Express
John Boyne was born in Ireland in 1971. He is the author of ten novels for adults, five for young readers and a collection of short stories. Perhaps best known for his 2006 multi-award-winning book The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas, John’s other novels, notably The Absolutist and A History of Loneliness, have been widely praised and are international bestsellers. In 2015, John chaired the panel for the Giller Prize, Canada’s most prestigious literary award. The Heart’s Invisible Furies is his most ambitious novel yet.
Sarah Moss’ The Tidal Zone introduces us to Adam, a stay-at-home dad who is also working on a history of the bombing and rebuilding of Coventry Cathedral. He is a good man and he is happy. But one day, he receives a call from his daughter's school to inform him that, for no apparent reason, fifteen-year-old Miriam has collapsed and stopped breathing. In that moment, he is plunged into a world of waiting, agonising, not knowing. The story of his life and the lives of his family are rewritten and re-told around this shocking central event, around a body that has inexplicably failed.
In this exceptionally courageous and unflinching novel of contemporary life Sarah Moss goes where most of us wouldn't dare to look, and the result is riveting – unbearably sad, but also miraculously funny and ultimately hopeful. The Tidal Zone explores parental love, overwhelming fear, illness and recovery. It is about clever teenagers and the challenges of marriage. It is about the NHS, academia, sex and gender in the twenty-first century, the work/life juggle, and the politics of packing lunches and loading dishwashers. It confirms Sarah Moss as a unique voice in modern fiction and a writer of luminous intelligence.
‘If there is one author you take a chance on this year, let it be [Sarah Moss].’ – The Time
‘Sarah Moss is a writer of exceptional gifts, who can combine the profound and the prosaic, the contemporary and the historic, in a compelling narrative. She writes better than anyone I know about the way we live now, about our fears and obsessions and dreams, about mortality and parenthood and just keeping going from day to day. I love her work, and I loved this book. She gives us so much. She writes very freely and fearlessly, making up her own rules as she goes. She is also very funny.’ – Margaret Drabble
‘The Tidal Zone may be something of a pioneer as a novel... A novel for our times... An intensely contemporary novel, with swingeing criticisms of this country today... An excellent read.’ – Penelope Lively, The Guardian
Sarah Moss was educated at Oxford University and is currently a Professor of Creative Writing at the University of Warwick. She is the author of four novels: Cold Earth, Night Waking, Bodies of Light and Signs for Lost Children; and the co-author of Chocolate: A Global History. She spent 2009-10 as a visiting lecturer at the University of Iceland, and wrote an account of her time there in Names for the Sea: Strangers in Iceland (Granta 2012), which was shortlisted for the RSL Ondaatje Prize 2013. She has twice been shortlisted for the Wellcome Book Prize.
John’s photo is by Alex Sapienza and Sarah’s photo is courtesy of the University of Warwick