PHOTO BY RICH GILLIGAN
Page Turner / Edited by Peter McDermott
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“The Heart’s Invisible Furies” proves that its author “is not just one of Ireland’s best living novelists but also one of the best novelists of Ireland.”
That Daily Express reviewer found some agreement 4,000 miles away, for the Minneapolis Star Tribune called John Boyne’s 15th novel, a “brilliant, moving history of an Irishman, and of modern Ireland itself.”
“The Heart’s Invisible Furies,” Boyne said, “is the story of Ireland between 1945 and 2015 as seen through the eyes of Cyril Avery. Cyril is adopted at birth by a well-to-do but eccentric Dublin couple and, as the years unfold, he slowly begins to understand how difficult it is to be a young gay man in a country that is intolerant of minorities.
“But Ireland starts to change,” the novelist added, “and Cyril with it, and as his story veers from comedy to tragedy and back again, the reader gets a sense of country which, by the time of the marriage equality referendum, has finally grown up.”
Boyne has been translated into 51 languages and is likely best known for one of his five novels for young readers, “The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas,” which sold nine million copies and was made into a Miramax film. Quite a few critics, though, see this latest as a career high so far.
“The most inviting and completely spellbinding book this author has ever written,” Christian Science Monitor said, “an outstandingly memorable achievement.”
“This is a novelist at the top of his game,” the Mail on Sunday commented.
And Library Journal said: “Boyne dedicates his wise, beautiful 15th novel to John Irving. This tribute fits a story calling to mind the humane sagas of T.S. Garp, Owen Meaney, and the humble tale of Piggy Sneed. Readers will fall in love with Boyne’s characters, especially Mrs. Goggin and Cyril’s adoptive mother, Maude Avery, in this heartbreaking and hilarious story.”
Date of birth: April 30, 1971
Place of birth: Dublin
Published works: All listed at www.johnboyne.com
What is your writing routine? Are there ideal conditions?
I try to write every day of the week and am usually at my desk by around 8:30 am. When I’m working on a first draft, I dedicate long hours to it and usually have some messy, unreadable manuscript together within about three months. After that, I work on it for another eighteen months or so, re-writing and revising constantly, figuring out the story and the characters, trying to make it as authentic and interesting as possible. It’s a process that I still enjoy, even after almost 20 years of publishing.
What advice do you have for aspiring writers?
Read more than you write. Join a writing group so you can have readers and listen to what they have to say. If you just want praise, give it to your mum.
After you send your novel to an agent or publisher, start writing the next one so you’ll be engaged in a new project while the wheels of the industry are slowing turning around your first. Don’t wait for inspiration to strike, you have to be disciplined and focused. Just sit down and write every day and you’ll be surprised how quickly the ideas will come.
Name three books that are memorable in terms of your reading pleasure.
There are so many but in recent months, Min Jin Lee’s “Pachinko,” Min Kym’s “Gone” and Ross Raisin’s “A Natural.”
What book are you currently reading?
“The Upstairs Room” by Kate Murray-Browne.
Is there a book you wish you had written?
“The Go-Between” by L.P. Hartley. And, you know, the “Harry Potter” books would have been good, too!
Name a book that you were pleasantly surprised by.
“Big Little Lies” by Liane Moriarty.
If you could meet one author, living or dead, who would it be?
What book changed your life?
“A Boy’s Own Story” by Edmund White.
What is your favorite spot in Ireland?
The garden of my house in Rathfarnham. I read out there.