‘Between sentences, sentiments and multi-dimensional characters’

‘Between sentences, sentiments and multi-dimensional characters’

By NIRMALA GOVINDARAJAN | | 27 August, 2016
Cover page of The Glorious Heresies.

The Glorious Heresies

Lisa McInerney

Pages: 384


Price: Rs 599

The Glorious Heresies, published by Hodder UK, is “unputdownable”. I put the book down — I am not even remotely conversant with Kindle and yes, I’m still mesmerised by the alphabets brought sumptuously alive in the Sabon MT typeset by Hewer Text, UK, to spill the beans cooked, fried, sautéed and nourished to succulent emotional detail by Lisa McInerney — only when I just bloody well had to. Damn it. There’s work to be done for bread and butter, we’re not bothered about the jam anymore.

McInerney’s novel is bittersweet with naked emotions that are now baggage, carried by everyday characters and revealed through the consequences of the lives they have chosen. 

Between the sentences and the sentiments, each character emerges, walking, talking, dealing, dying — some shedding their clothes and making out, others alone in hiding, yet another “dealing” with her sin, each character leaving tell-tale signs of unresolved affection. 

I can only imagine how integral to her own life these characters are, as I would with any writer who has ventured to tell a tale so bold and voracious, hitting orthodoxy in the shin and shaking up the foundations of the “normative storytelling format”.

If at all, The Glorious Heresies is difficult to compare with any other work of fiction that I have read so far, with the closest resonance being to the translated version of The Tin Drum by Gunter Grass. The commonality is starkly resonant in the unorthodox portrayal of characters, whose lives are blasphemous, going by common “normative” opinion.

But what the hell is the norm?

Lisa McInerney lets all hell wreak havoc on “ego mutilating societal norms” accorded their normative status by a “religio-political Irish society”, even as the characters Ryan and Karine, Tony and Jimmy, Tara and Georgie, the dead Robbie included, carry on with their self-destructive existences until they all come undone. And then there’s Maureen, the religious society spurned lady who dared to birth an offspring outside wedlock over forty years ago — she, the monster who killed another’s offspring with a Holy Stone unknown to her own murderous spirit and she — the redeemer who saves yet another son from the pangs of self-destruction.

And then, there’s the piano.

Thanks to The Glorious Heresies even as a renewed chorus of dissent emerges, there’s hope for bold unorthodoxy, told in the form of a story that shouts spunk, humanity and eloquence all at once.

It’s rare to come across such powerful writing. And, my reckoning is that the awards will keep pouring in for McInerney — Baileys is just the trendsetter.

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