Ithaca
by Alan McMonagle

Ithaca

Picador

Summer 2009, and eleven-year-old Jason Lowry is preoccupied with thoughts of the Da he has never known. In the meantime, his vodka-swilling, swings-from-the-hip Ma is busy entertaining her latest boyfriend and indulging her fondness for joyriding. Jason escapes to the Swamp: a mysteriously rising pool of fetid water on the outskirts of the town. There, he meets the girl, a being as lost as himself, and with even less regard for reality. Together, they conjure exotic adventures – from ancient Egypt to the search for Ithaca, home of Odysseus. But what begin as innocent flights of fancy soon become forays into hazardous territory; the girl is a dangerous (and very committed) partner in crime.

Praise from the Desmond Elliott Prize

“A Homeric tale translated to Hibernian Under Milk Wood. Its characters packed in too, for this place teems with vivid humanity: deftly sketched, indelibly inked in familiar script, from Flukey Nolan to Cop Lawless, to crazywoman. And, at its centre, their own Jason – tireless as his classical namesake in the search for a father, equal to Odysseus in yearning, striving for Ithaca. Visions of leaving, dreams of belonging, irradiate the arc of this narrative, lend irresistible allure to heroic Jason.”

About the Author

Alan McMonagle has written for radio, published two collections of short stories – both of which were nominated for the Frank O’Connor Award – and contributed stories to many journals in Ireland and North America. He lives in Galway. Ithaca is his first novel.