The Cruelty Men
By: Emer Martin
Publication Date: June 2018
‘The Cruelty Men is a tidal wave that drags you like a piece of debris through Irish history from the ice age to gangland Dublin. A bible of f–cked up Irishness.’ – Irvine Welsh
SHORTLISTED FOR THE KERRY GROUP IRISH NOVEL OF THE YEAR 2019
This novel is a new work from the prize-winning author Emer Martin. Her first novel, Breakfast in Babylon, won Book of the Year 1996 at the prestigious Listowel Writers’ Week.
Abandoned by her parents when they resettle in Meath, Mary O Conaill faces the task of raising her younger siblings alone. Padraig is disappeared, Seán joins the Christian Brothers, Bridget escapes and her brother Seamus inherits the farm. Maeve is sent to serve a family of shopkeepers in the local town. Later, pregnant and unwed, she is placed in a Magdalene Laundry where her twins are forcibly removed.
Spanning the 1930s to the 70s, this sweeping multi-generational family saga follows the psychic and physical displacement of a society in freefall after independence.
Emer Martin’s mother-and-baby homes and Magdalene Laundries are the Irish cousins of Dostoyevsky and Solzhenitsyn’s Gulags; her dispassionate depiction of the ordinary psychotic violence at the heart of families and society in rural Ireland is akin to that of Ferrante’s Naples.
In The Cruelty Men, two Irelands run in stark parallel: a gentle land of fairy rings, blackberry picking, and poker evenings with the local priest, and a system in which the Church and State incarcerate the vulnerable for profit. The intimacy of the first person accounts draws the reader into the world of each character. Their stoicism makes their suffering all the more moving and dignified.
A delightful abundance of poetic and surreal phrases, quips and curses in this book give it a vitality and authenticity. Poignant and swift, The Cruelty Men tells an unsentimental yet emotional tale of survival in a country proclaimed as independent but subjugated by silence.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Emer Martin is a Dubliner who has lived in Paris, London, the Middle East, and various parts of the USA. Her first novel, Breakfast in Babylon, won Book of the Year 1996 at the prestigious Listowel Writers’ Week. More Bread Or I’ll Appear, her second novel, was published internationally in 1999. Her third novel, Baby Zero, was published in the UK and Ireland March 2007, and released in the USA in 2014. She has worked as a theatrical producer and publisher, founding publishing cooperative Rawmeash in 2014. Emer was awarded the Guggenheim Fellowship in 2000. She now lives between California and Co. Meath in Ireland.
PRAISE FOR THE CRUELTY MEN
Shortlisted for the Kerry Group Novel of the Year
‘Martin is a natural storyteller with a finely tuned ear for language and symbolism.’ IRISH INDEPENDENT
‘[The Cruelty Men] should propel an already proven and prodigious talent to the forefront of contemporary Irish letters.’ IRISH TIMES
‘A dark and fascinating read [on] the nature of family, Irishness, and identity.’ THE JOURNAL
‘In the scale of its ambition, and the centrality of its subject matter, it could be said that what Martin is writing could be called the great Irish novel, if such a thing existed. What is certain, however, is that it is an essential Irish novel.’ DUBLIN REVIEW OF BOOKS
‘The dark multi-generational chronicle highlights the importance of storytelling and the innate desire for belonging. Martin, herself a wonderful storyteller, has an acute appreciation of language, symbolism and lost folklore.’ THE SUNDAY TIMES
‘The veracity and authenticity of this novel appear to be without question.’ SUNDAY INDEPENDENT
‘There’s an incandescent rage at the heart of The Cruelty Men that burns so brightly, it will sear itself onto the consciousness of all who read this powerful and moving novel.’ SUNDAY BUSINESS POST
‘Emer Martin has written a beautiful alternative history of Ireland … a book that traces the meaning of storytelling, mislaid culture and the boundless quest for belonging. The prose is captivating and seductive, it left me exhilarated and breathless, with new eyes on what it means to be Irish.’ JUNE CALDWELL
An interview with Emer Martin on BBC Radio Ulster
An interview with Emer Martin on the Pat Kenny Show on Newstalk
An interview with Emer Martin on RTÉ Arena
The Cruelty Men on The Book on One RTE Radio 1
Read an extract from The Cruelty Men on RTÉ Culture
‘A phenomenal, engaging tour of family dysfunction, Irish history, and storytelling.’ GOODREADS
‘A brutal, unflinching journey through Irish history of the last century. Emer Martin brilliantly weaves in and out of intersecting stories, creating unforgettable characters, moving back and forth in time, and layering it all with mythology.’ GOODREADS
|Dimensions||216 × 136 mm|