Synopses & Reviews
Ana knows little about her birth mother: she knows that she gave Ana away. She has a photograph, too, found in her Father's belongings when she was a teenager. It might be her mother, but there are two women in it and she doesn't know whether it is a clue or not. She also knows her mother's name, but Solange Mendes is a common name in Angola, so it, like Ana, could belong to anyone. The only thing she knows for sure is that now Helena, her Father's wife and the woman who brought her up in Lisbon, is dead, she must find Solange.
Luanda, Angola, is a long way from Ana's adopted home in Dublin, but she knows it's the only place to begin her search, so she visits her brother, Tiago, and his family, so frozen by the project ahead of her that she makes no plans, has no ideas, and doesn't even confess to him her real reasons for the trip.
As the narrative switches between Ana's search and Helena and Jose's relationship, beginning with their first meeting in a cafe in 1960s Lisbon, Walking On Dry Land builds a delicate portrait of how a family secret can lie undisturbed for a lifetime.
"Ana has spent her entire life tormented about her parentage; while living in colonized Angola, her father, Jose, a Portuguese writer, had an affair with an Angolan woman. Despite this infidelity, Jose's wife, Helena, raised Ana along with their son Tiago. Upon Helena's death, Ana travels to Angola, where Tiago lives, to try to find her birth mother, of whom all she knows is a name Solange and the fact that she was once a singer. Ana finds Solange and as they become acquainted, Ana confronts her about her abandonment of Ana during the Angolan revolution. Solange counters that, without her consent, Jose and Helena had spirited Ana back to Portugal. Ana's search is intercut with stories of Jose, Helena, and Solange in their youth, against the backdrop of Angolan political unrest. These cuts add depth to character profiles and setting, a subtlety that readers will appreciate amid the familiar background of a displaced child seeking her parents. A skilled storyteller, Kehoe intimately illustrates a land and a woman in turmoil. (Dec.)" Publishers Weekly Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
Praise for Denis Kehoe:
'A promising new literary talent' Stage
'Remarkable, sharply observed and engaging' Sunday Independent
'Passionately written ... subtle rhymes and nuances draw the reader towards a latent vein of mystery ... complex and spellbinding' Independent on Sunday
A subtle, luminous novel about family, secrets, and the importance of knowing our origins.
A moving, complex, and engrossing novel."The Irish Times
Ana has little knowledge about her birth mother: she knows that she gave Ana away. She knows her mother's name, but Solange Mendes is a common name in Angola, so it, like Ana, could belong to anyone. Ana decides to travel from her home in Dublin to try and locate Solange in post-revolutionary Angola. Walking On Dry Land builds a delicate portrait of how when a family secret is uncovered there can be explosive consequences.
This book confirms the lyrical promise shown in Denis Kehoe's first novel Nights Beneath the Nation.
Denis Kehoe lives in Dublin, Ireland, where he teaches film studies and media.
About the Author
Denis Kehoe was born in Dublin in 1978, where he now lives. He studied philosophy and European culture, literature and thought. He teaches film studies, media and English.