By: Alice Lyons
Critically acclaimed debut novel from Alice Lyons.
What is the sound of a voice that is alienated from itself? How can one truthfully represent the creative process of an artist? Oona, an artist-in-the-making, lives in an affluent suburban culture of first-generation immigrants in New Jersey where conspicuous consumption and white privilege prevail, and the denial of death is ubiquitous. The silence surrounding death extends to the family home where Oona is not told while her mother lies dying of cancer upstairs. Afterwards, a silence takes hold inside her: her inner life goes into a deep freeze. Emotionally hobbled, she has her first encounters with sex, drugs and other trials of adolescence.
Lyons’ first novel gives voice to a female character on her fraught journey into adulthood and charts her evolution as an artist, as her adolescent dissociation is thawed through contact with the physical world, the materials of painting and her engagement with Irish community, culture and landscape.
Set during the era of the Celtic Tiger and its aftermath, this is a resonant story conveyed in an innovative form. Written entirely without the letter ‘o’, the tone of the book reflects Oona’s inner damage and the destruction caused by hiding, omitting and obliterating parts of ourselves.
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Alice Lyons is a versatile artist and film-maker. She is a recipient of the Patrick Kavanagh Award for Poetry and the Ireland Chair of Poetry Bursary. Originally from the US, she has lived in the west of Ireland for twenty years. She was a Radcliffe Fellow in Poetry and New Media at Harvard University 2016/17. Her poetry film The Polish language was nominated for an Irish Television and Film Award (ifta). Throughout her career she has created work that brings literature into new contexts, media and communities. She currently lectures in creative writing at IT Sligo and is poet-in-residence with the Yeats Society, Sligo.
‘Oona, a book without an ‘o’, is an ingeniously crafted marvel’ IRISH INDEPENDENT