Review: The Fields

Journalist Kevin Maher’s literary debut is a whopper of a coming-of-age tale, set in 1980s Dublin, the author’s hometown.

Teenager Jim Finnegan is the youngest of a rowdy Catholic brood. While his family thinks he’s still young enough for Star Wars action figures, his 17-year-old girlfriend, Saidhbh, reckons him old enough (just) for sex. If that’s not fuel enough for adolescent turmoil, around the same time his dad is diagnosed with cancer, Jim falls victim to the repugnant, sexually deviant parish priest, Fr O’Culigeen. The one thing Jim does with any surety is to love Saidhbh, but in the process he’s going to learn about life and death and all the love and violence in between.

Humour, like everything else, is lashed on thick, and it’s the voice – hilarious, colloquial and unflinchingly frank on the darkest of matters – that sets this novel apart. The narrative digresses, richly, to the boundaries of Jim’s parochial world, and eventually beyond, to London. While the wacky, wholly unexpected denouement will leave many readers scratching their heads, it’s a hugely entertaining and absorbing read.

The Fields / Kevin Maher / Little, Brown

 

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