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Sebastian Barry

Author of The Secret Scripture

42+ Works 8,326 Members 449 Reviews 31 Favorited

About the Author

Sebastian Barry is a playwright whose work has been produced in London, Dublin, Sydney, and New York. He lives in Wicklow, Ireland, with his wife and three children. Sebastian Barry is an Irish writer and playwright, born in 1955. He is the author of two novels, A Long Long Way and Days Without show more End, which won the Costa Book Award for best novel. His other awards include the Kerry Group Irish Fiction Prize, the Irish Book Awards Novel of the Year, the Independent Booksellers Prize and the James Tait Black Memorial Prize. (Bowker Author Biography) show less


Works by Sebastian Barry

The Secret Scripture (2008) 2,862 copies
Days without End (2016) 1,295 copies
A Long, Long Way (2005) 1,246 copies
On Canaan's Side (2011) 731 copies
The Whereabouts of Eneas McNulty (0204) — Author — 535 copies
Old God's Time (2023) 421 copies
Annie Dunne (2002) 381 copies
The Temporary Gentleman (2014) 310 copies
A Thousand Moons (2020) 294 copies
The Steward of Christendom (1996) 50 copies
De verre voortijd (2023) 21 copies
Our Lady of Sligo (1998) 18 copies
The Pride of Parnell Street (2007) 15 copies
Andersen's English (2010) 13 copies

Associated Works

In Parenthesis (1937) — Foreword, some editions — 624 copies
The Penguin Book of Irish Fiction (1999) — Contributor — 152 copies
Midsummer Nights (1702) — Contributor — 74 copies
The Secret Scripture [2016 film] (2016) — Original book — 7 copies


19th century (28) 20th century (56) 21st century (50) American Civil War (33) audiobook (55) Booker (27) Booker Prize (31) Booker Prize Shortlist (66) Civil War (54) ebook (45) family (62) fiction (956) grief (26) historical (72) historical fiction (301) history (33) Ireland (558) Irish (178) Irish fiction (135) Irish literature (195) Kindle (52) library (35) literary (34) literary fiction (61) literature (82) love (31) memory (49) mental health (35) mental illness (66) mystery (29) novel (160) read (70) Roman (27) signed (29) Sligo (36) to-read (545) unread (28) USA (36) war (77) WWI (159)

Common Knowledge

Legal name
Barry, Sebastian
Dublin, Ireland
Places of residence
Dublin, Ireland
County Wicklow, Ireland
Trinity College, Dublin
Harry Ransom Center
University of Iowa
Villanova University
Awards and honors
Lloyds Private Banking Playwright of the Year Award (1995)
Derek Johns (AP Watt)
Short biography
Sebastian Barry is an Irish novelist, playwright and poet. He was named Laureate for Irish Fiction, 2019–2021. He is noted for his dense literary writing style and is considered one of Ireland's finest writers.



October 2022: Sebastian Barry in Monthly Author Reads (October 2022)
On Canaan's Side by Sebastian Barry in Booker Prize (September 2011)


Long Enough

Read by: John Cormack
Length: 9 hrs and 17 mins

I never thought I would not enjoy a book written by Sebastian Barry. But it’s wise words that advise “never say never”.

There are so many excellent WWI books out there now, and the time has come that a new slant is needed for a book that solely revolves around WWI trench warfare to hold the readers’ interest. The plot and events in the book are now banal with their overuse and progressive manicuring. Nothing we haven’t read or seen in books and films in the last 120 years. Of course Barry has the gift of perfect pitch prosee, but even Pavarotti couldn’t do much with Achy Breaky Heart.

There’s little apart from the surfeit of metaphors and similes to set A Long Long Way apart from other WWI novels. There is to be fair, the introduction of the Home Rule conflict, that caused some Irish soldiers in the British army to turn against Irish civilians. But even there I’m not so sure if the incidents as described are true, as there are many factual errors in the book - the repeated mention of mustard gas being employed long before it was manufactured, and its effects being just one example.

The over-wordiness has the effect of immunizing the reader against the horrors foot solders were exposed to, for example as they had to stumble in retreat, over the bodies of the dead.

“Death was a muddle of sorts, things thrown in their way to make them stumble and fall. It was hard and hard again to make any path through the humbled souls. The quick rats maybe had had their way with eyes and lips; the sightless sockets peered at the living soldiers, the lipless teeth all seemed to have just cracked mighty jokes. “ And it doesn’t stop there but goes on and on with graphic descriptions illustrating not the horror, but instead Barry’s word-craft.

Are we meant to dwell on the prose or feel the horror of the soldiers? I kept reading in the hope something would happen to gain my interest or expand my comprehension of the horror of war. But there were just too many words and it took a long long time to reach the end. I was not even mentally exhausted, I was mentally lulled.

Another Barry fan may get more from A Long Long Way than I did, but for me it was a long long way from deserving my recommendation.
… (more)
kjuliff | 56 other reviews | May 14, 2024 |
Just basked in the writing of this talented author and his remarkably sweet hero as he roams the world.
featherbooks | 16 other reviews | May 7, 2024 |
A wonderful book. Roseanne McNulty, 100 years old, is a long-term patient of Roscommon Mental Hospital. She's Doctor Grene's patient. Secretly, she starts to record her memories, shifting, uncertain, lyrically expressed. Doctor Grene, whose own life is difficult, has access to a different version of her life story, and she does not confide her own to him. Hers was a life lived against a background of civil war and religious intolerance, of poverty, and the mental illness of her mother. Though many of her memories are bleak, Roseanne herself is warm, often funny, always sympathetic. Dr. Grene's losses and hurts are woven into the narrative, and at the end, his history, and that of Roseanne are interlinked in a most surprising way. This is a beautifully written and tragic novel about damaged but utterly sympathetic characters.… (more)
Margaret09 | 152 other reviews | Apr 15, 2024 |
We're in Dublin in the 1990s, meeting the widowed and recently retired Tom Kettle, who had been a police detective, I immediately engaged with this novel, which lilted along in a strong Irish accent, and which I'd have happily read with no plot at all, for the sake of accompanying Tom Kettle through his retirement. But there is a plot. And it's not straightforward. It loops back and forth through memory, and I really don't want to give anything away except to say it does involve the sad, bad old story of sexual abuse of children by Catholic clergy. Kettle is an unreliable narrator. Facts haze in and out, can be deliberately confusing. How difficult it is to tell a story rooted in a barely-remembered or understood past. But there is love, enduring love, underlying everything. A book to savour, despite the unappetising events that underpin it.… (more)
1 vote
Margaret09 | 32 other reviews | Apr 15, 2024 |



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