Synopses & Reviews
A vibrant, intimate, hypnotic portrait of one womans life, from an important new writer
Tess Lohan is the kind of woman that we meet and fail to notice every day. A single mother. A nurse. A quiet woman, who nonetheless feels things acutely—a woman with tumultuous emotions and few people to share them with.
Academy Street is Mary Costellos luminous portrait of a whole life. It follows Tess from her girlhood in western Ireland through her relocation to America and her life there, concluding with a moving reencounter with her Irish family after forty years of exile. The novel has a hypnotic pull and a steadily mounting emotional force. It speaks of disappointments but also of great joy. It shows how the signal events of the last half century affect the course of a life lived in New York City.
Anne Enright has said that Costellos first collection of stories, The China Factory, “has the feel of work that refused to be abandoned; of stories that were written for the sake of getting something important right . . . Her writing has the kind of urgency that the great problems demand” (The Guardian).
Academy Street is driven by this same urgency. In sentence after sentence it captures the rhythm and intensity of inner life.
Praise for Academy Street
Shortlisted for The Irish Book Awards Novel of the Year 2014 “Costellos writing is so controlled and convincing. She captures with great acuity the complex inner world that makes Tess both withdrawn and desperate to experience life . . . Hers is a quiet life, but one with enormous impact on the reader.”—Sinéad Gleason, The Guardian
“In Academy Street, [Mary Costello] has hammered her writing—deceptively strong, tonally flat—into a dark, strong book. To call it restrained is to understate both the turbulence buried within the novel and the control with which its conveyed . . . The handling of time is fluid and cumulatively devastating.”—Ronnie Scott, The Australian
“Mary Costello is a very gifted writer and this is a beautifully written novel.”—Neil Donnelly, Irish Independent
“With extraordinary devotion, Mary Costello brings to life a woman who would otherwise have faded into oblivion amid the legions of the meek and the unobtrusive.” —J. M. Coetzee “Academy Street
is understated, graceful and, ultimately, devastating. Even as my heart was breaking I couldnt put the book down.” —Donal Ryan, author of The Spinning Heart
“To recount a life story in a novel is a difficult task. To do so with brevity and unsentimental honesty takes greatness. Academy Street
is a powerful and emotional novel from one of literatures finest new voices.” —John Boyne, author of The Absolutist
“I read Academy Street cover to cover in one night, unable to stop. It is a short novel about a long life, stretching from rural Ireland to post-9/11 New York, and brings to mind the elegance of Colm Toíbín and the insight of Alice Munro. Its stealthy, quiet power will exert a hold over any reader.” —Maggie OFarrell, author of Instructions for a Heatwave
“Intensely moving but never sentimental, Academy Street is a profound meditation on what Faulkner called ‘the human heart in conflict with itself. In Tess Lohan, Mary Costello has created one of the most fully realized characters in contemporary fiction. What a marvel of a book.” —Ron Rash, author of Nothing Gold Can Stay
Praise for The China Factory
“This first collection has the feel of work that refused to be abandoned; of stories that were written for the sake of getting something important right . . . Costellos work is true, her problems distinctive and the voice all her own . . . Her writing has the kind of urgency that the great problems demand—call them themes; they are the kind of problem that make a writer.” —Anne Enright, The Guardian
About the Author
Mary Costello grew up in Galway and now lives in Dublin. Her 2012 short-story collection, The China Factory, was nominated for the Guardian First Book Award and short-listed for an Irish Book Award. Her stories have been published in various anthologies and broadcast on radio.