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Wednesday, Sept. 28, 2011

Sebastian Barry's Poetic 'On Canaan's Side'

Best-selling author to speak at Boswell Book Co.

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In a stark and honest first-person voice, the 89-year-old storyteller of Sebastian Barry's latest novel recounts her life as though mesmerized by its occurrences, weaving a tale of hope and despair that is both epic and engrossing. On Canaan's Side is a fictional biography of Lilly Bere, filled with jumbled memories of her past—partially set in 1920s Chicago, where Lilly travels back to her prime and explores her Irish heritage. Told with lyrical imagery, we see time through Lilly's eyes, as if reliving our own memories. This anecdotal memoir also interacts with today's harsh realities, opening with Lilly's stream of consciousness as she mourns her grandson's suicide, a victim of PTSD resulting from service in the Gulf War. Filled with violent happenings and complex detail, Barry's intricate historical fiction casts a shadow on our country's wars from WWII to battles of today, scrutinizes the Great Depression and early American immigration, and analyzes the tumultuous relationships and numerous upheavals that befall any family over eight generations.

On Canaan's Side
, the author's fifth novel, mirrors Barry's previous style of using poetic prose and intelligent detail to bring to light crisp images of history. Barry, the best-selling author of The Secret Scripture, twice has been shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize for Fiction. As with his previous books, On Canaan's Side is beautifully written. He will appear at Boswell Book Co. on Saturday, Oct. 1, at 3 p.m.