Synopses & Reviews
Set during the year preceding the Easter Uprising of 1916 -- Ireland's brave but fractured revolt against British rule -- At Swim, Two Boys
is a tender, tragic love story and a brilliant depiction of people caught in the tide of history. Powerful and artful, and ten years in the writing, it is a masterwork from Jamie O'Neill.
Jim Mack is a naïve young scholar and the son of a foolish, aspiring shopkeeper. Doyler Doyle is the rough-diamond son -- revolutionary and blasphemous -- of Mr. Mack's old army pal. Out at the Forty Foot, that great jut of rock where gentlemen bathe in the nude, the two boys make a pact: Doyler will teach Jim to swim, and in a year, on Easter of 1916, they will swim to the distant beacon of Muglins Rock and claim that island for themselves. All the while Mr. Mack, who has grand plans for a corner shop empire, remains unaware of the depth of the boys' burgeoning friendship and of the changing landscape of a nation.
"The secret is out, James Joyce and Oscar Wilde had a child: his name is Jamie O'Neill, and his novel is a big, character-filled Edwardian triple-decker." Felice Picano, author of Like People in History
"The hunger for liberation...gnaws at the big heart of this young Irish writer's engrossing, often very moving debut....Excess and overstatement do crop up, but O'Neill's warm empathy with his characters, stinging dialogue, and authentic tragic vision more than compensate: altogether, his first is the best literary news out of Ireland since the maturity of Roddy Doyle." Kirkus Reviews (Starred Review)
About the Author
Raised in County Dublin, Jamie O'Neill now lives in Galway, Ireland.