John Maher is a writer and Middle East scholar. His novel, The Luck Penny (Brandon, 2007), was shortlisted for debut novel on BBC Radio 5. His doctoral thesis (SOAS, University of London), was published as ‘Slouching Towards Jerusalem: Reactive Nationalism in the Irish, Israeli and Palestinian Novel’ (Irish Academic Press, 2012).
His current novel, When the Sun Bursts won an Arts Council of Ireland Bursary in Literature.
When the Sun Bursts (Endeavour, 2014) is an award-winning story set against the background of the 1916 Rebellion in Dublin. Sadie McDonald, a young Irish woman, is trying to ‘kidnap’ her child back, on Easter Sunday morning, Lydia Fitzgerald, an Anglo-Irish lady in the Republican movement and her German lover, Ilse Mainz, and Kapitänleutnant Heinrich Müller, on his way to bomb Dublin in a Zeppelin, secretly tormented by his decision to have his chronically ill daughter lobotomised, in a Swiss Clinic.
The lives of all four overlap in this extraordinary retelling of the most crucial week in the founding of the Irish Republic.
Video of the aftermath of 1916 Rising:
A Short History of Darkness
Set between a small Irish town and the fictitious Druze town of Al-Birkeh, in the hills of the western Galilee, the tale was inspired by the author’s field work in that region. The story toggles between the dark days after the Second World War and the present, between two putative fathers and, ultimately, between two women who are never destined to meet, except in the heart of the man who is in thrall to both.
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‘The author of the short story collection, The Coast of Malabar is surely destined to eclipse his already substantial reputation with this exceptionally realised novel. Superb matter.’ Sunday Tribune
‘Maher’s unconventional mix of genres, complex disquisitions on the intricacies of nationalisms, and trust in committed literature’s contributions to political solutions make this in the end a fascinating addition to the many academic fields dedicated to triumph over the “rough beast”.’ Choice Review.
‘Barry, aka John Maher (The Luck Penny, 2007, etc.), writes with grit and crackle, and the narrative ricochets briskly from past to present and professional to personal.’ Kirkus Reviews.
‘I thought the winner, The Coast of Malabar, had everything – almost flawless – I was very much taken by it.’ James Plunkett, author of Strumpet City, for RTE.
‘Daringly prescient to the point of prophecy, wickedly insightful and most impressively crafted, this searing yet hugely enjoyable novel is in the grand tradition of De Quincey, Jonathan Swift and, latterly Chris Morris. In an age of worthy but predictable writing, Maher’s book is sui generis. It simply demands to be read.’ Pat McCabe, author of The Butcher Boy, The Dead School, Breakfast on Pluto
It was the first night of High Thermidor and an ironic, roseate moon hung above the streets and alleyways of Rondo. Its light fell without favour, upon the tree-lined boulevard of First Bakers, clinging to the late leaves and needles of the Obvious trees.
Josef Divonne is angry with the past. With the glorious tales of the Sudden War and the Purifications doled out by veterans Foucarde and Du Bois and his father, around the chateau table, as they chomp on meats and fishes from the colonies. At the start of the humid hell of High Thermidor, with a motley crew of disgruntled fellow dissidents from Lower Europe, he crosses to Rondo in search of the perfect country.
Josef is home at last. Or so he thinks. Slowly, painfully, he will learn the real lesson of his vainglorious voyage, which he repeats, over and over again in his native Lower European:
‘ ‘s gibt rien aqui! ‘s gibt rien aqui!’
Agent: Ivan Mulcahy
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