PUBLISHERS OF LITERARY FICTION SINCE 1983
Cover design: Marie Lane
'Eoghan Smith writes with a rhythmic purpose and uses a lyricist’s skill to make readers care about an unsympathetic, small man who insists his surname has a “y” as his mark of distinction.'
As an author, Smith uses the novel as a vehicle to exercise concerns both philosophical, ecological and deeply personal. These concerns, and the form in which they’re explored […] test the limits of what can be defined as a novel. And yet, the interplay between the author, the narrator and the protagonist, and the interrogation of narrative form and capacity here makes the book a truly interesting and genuinely experimental foray into Irish writing.'
'Eoghan Smith's writing is pure poetry in places, to the point of being disconcerting - but the mix of dark humour and mystery makes for a wonderful read which, at 154 pages long, can also be consumed in one decent sitting.
'Through the perspective of Smyth, of the sprat, of the puffin we realise our own insignificance but perhaps modestly accepting this insignificance is the key to finally harmonising with this rock we exist on. Perhaps. To echo Smyth, there are no answers here but what there does seem to be is hope - torturous, unrelenting hope.
Written during the pandemic, Eoghan Smith has elegantly captured the torment and splendour that permeates this rudderless existence of ours. A Provincial Death is a beautifully composed novel that will leave you in the pleasurable ache of unanswerable questions, and it is true that the unanswerable questions are the most important ones to ask.'
'I've seen one review that said this book can be read at "a sitting," It can't. In one session, maybe, but not a sitting. You need to stand up and walk around every now and again — to consult your dictionary, to digest what you've just swallowed, to prepare yourself for the next page. For Smith is no more willing to give his reader an easy time than he was in The Failing Heart and his 150 pages provide a full-mind workout of daunting, but extremely worthwhile, strenuousness...
[Smith's] descriptive writing is breathtaking, on the level of the image, the sentence, the page. The book teems with life — Smith deploys his powers not just to describe the puffin, but the dying sprat that the puffin feeds on, the parasitic creature that is feeding on the eye of that sprat. Hundreds of creatures are named and often brilliantly pictured (that puffin has "the distinctive red and black beak so adored by wildlife photographers and childlike people")...There is profusion not just on earth and in the ocean, but in the skies: Smyth has an eye on the merciless sun but his mind is on the moon, the life cycle of which is the preoccupation of his nemesis/quarry, McGovern. Here is the poet's lyric gift (a cloud —"those tresses of cirrus are thinning out") and here are three-page, Banville-like descriptive arias, consisting of long, comma-filled sentences of enormous power, depicting Smyth's flight across the Wexford countryside, the last moments of a herring, and everything in between.
[A Provincial Death] is seriously Irish — and Irishly serious: the ridiculousness of Smyth’s predicament doesn’t stop its being terrifying. For all its formal adventurousness and linguistic playfulness, this is a novel "about" what makes us human, about why we should cling on to the rock instead of loosening our grip. Smyth realizes that "his mind is coextensive with the world," that the firmament above his island and the multitudinous seas around it are unceasingly dying and being born, but that his end, however lonely and unremarked, means something.
A dark, courageous novel for those who like their fiction experimental, no chaser. Smyth, too prone to be called a protagonist, is an academic who awakens one day to find himself injured and stranded on a rock in the Irish Sea. What follows is an ineffable fragmentary flow of consciousness and memory unspooled by switches in narrative voice, with lots of literary references (Arendt, Beckett, Rilke, etc), and Camus-flavoured discourses as Smyth clings to his rock, rather than roll one uphill. Smith is a fine writer, imbued with the gothic and metaphysical. This is his second book following The Failing Heart, and he possesses a lapidary style; a ruminative voice that echoes in the mind. He fables with a flourish on life’s futility, and our failings.'
No. of pages: 154
Publication date: 25.02.2022
Re-print date: 25.02.2022
978 1 912868 65 0
978 1 912868 90 2