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Star of the Sea

by Joseph O'Connor

Is this an edge-of-the-seat thriller, a six-tissues weepie or a wry social satire? All of the above! As well as a journey from Ireland to America and from poverty to hope, at the time of the 1847 famine. It raises big issues too, so read it when you have time to do it justice.

Extract

Mulvey continued eating, his head bowed low. Eating like a man who had known the life of hunger, a man for whom eating had become a matter of chance: rhythmically, determinedly, with grim concentration, as though the sands were running steady through some hourglass of providence and the plate would be taken away when the last ones disappeared. Not gorging, not gulping - that was much less efficient: in your hurry you might leave the tiniest scrap uneaten. His hands rose and sank like those of a puppet drummer-boy, from plate to mouth, from mouth to plate, and he swallowed while they sank, so that his mouth would be empty at the instant when his fork rose to astonish it once more. He chewed quickly, mechanically: taste was not the issue. Taste was not something that had mattered for years. His hands trembled sometimes; his face was damp with purpose.

Parallels

English Passengers by Matthew Kneale
Roots by Alex Haley
 

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