Publication Date: 25/05/2023 ISBN: 9781526635853 Category:

Falling Animals

Sheila Armstrong

Publisher: Bloomsbury Publishing PLC
Publication Date: 25/05/2023 ISBN: 9781526635853 Category:


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‘Vivid, sensuous … A subtle tale of loss, loneliness and disconnection’

‘Lush, lyrical and cleverly-constructed. A beautiful book’

‘Beautifully written … An unchained sea-melody of outsiders, pilgrims and castaways’

The disquieting story of an unidentified man as told by those who crossed paths with him on the last day of his life, Sheila Armstrong’s debut novel is haunting, lyrical and darkly suspenseful

On an isolated beach set against a lonely, windswept coastline, a pale figure sits serenely against a sand dune staring out to sea. His hands are folded neatly in his lap, his ankles are crossed and there is a faint smile on his otherwise lifeless face.

Months later, after a fruitless investigation, the nameless stranger is buried in an unmarked grave. But the mystery of his life and death lingers on, drawing the nearby villagers into its wake. From strandings to shipwrecks, it is not the first time that strangeness has washed up on their shores.

Told through a chorus of voices, Falling Animals follows the crosshatching threads of lives both true and imagined, real and surreal, past and present. Slowly, over great time and distance, the story of one man, alone on a beach, begins to unravel. Elegiac and atmospheric, dark and disquieting, Sheila Armstrong’s debut novel marks her arrival as one of the most uniquely gifted writers at work in literary fiction today.

Reader Reviews

‘Beautifully written and gently catches the reader with its meditative prose and deep humanity’
‘Such a beautiful book’
‘Gorgeous wild setting and achingly recognisable characters’

Publisher Review

The characters in Falling Animals are beautifully written: their thoughts and sorrows swirl and eddy in an unchained sea-melody of outsiders, pilgrims and castaways whose drifting lives touch us and leave in their turn. This is a lovely book -- Anne Enright Sheila Armstrong's resonant debut novel ... takes the mystery of an unidentified body on an Irish beach as the starting point for a fractured, polyphonic novel that roams from ship to shore. Her writing is admirably vivid, sensuous and impressionistic as she weaves a subtle tale of loss, loneliness and disconnection Elegiac and profoundly beautiful. * Guardian * An immensely impressive debut from a major literary talent * Joseph O'Connor, author of Shadowplay * Lush, lyrical and cleverly-constructed. A beautiful book. * Louise Kennedy, author of Trespasses * Armstrong's prose is as invigorating and restless as the sea itself. * Daily Mail * An intriguing mystery...reminding us that no one can live in isolation * Take a Break * Remarkable... an absolutely beautiful debut * The New European * Sheila Armstrong is in love with the world and its people, and that love shines out clearly in this luminous novel; a novel built on the stories of one small village, shaken loose when a body falls unannounced on the beach. I absolutely loved it. * Jon McGregor * A writer of notable talents... Armstrong's writing is as fresh and bracing as the salt-spattered breeze. * The Telegraph * A poignant and immersive read, Falling Animals so deftly pitches you into the head of each character you'll lose yourself in this book. Armstrong writes complex and troubling stories with such unflinching graciousness her characters are desperately humane and easy to empathise with. A stunning first novel from one of Ireland's most intriguing new voices * Jan Carson, author of The Raptures * Sheila Armstrong's prose is meticulous and startlingly visual. Falling Animals salvages something altogether human from Life's most sorrowful mysteries * Ronan Hession, author of Leonard and Hungry Paul * A wondrous commingling of characters - variously lost, broken, misplaced, striving, reaching - seamlessly bound together by a singular event. A work that sings triumphantly to the interconnectedness of everything. This is vivid, evocative, lyrical, openhearted prose and Falling Animals is a beautiful collage of a novel * Alan McMonagle, author of Ithaca * An exceptional debut novel. Profoundly moving, her ability to write community is utterly singular. Her voice sings, using perfect sentences to create unforgettable characters and landscapes, with a structure so deft it is breath taking. I could not put it down and I will encourage everyone I meet to pick it up. Confirms her as one of the most interesting and stellar voices in the Irish literary scene. Falling Animals is a masterpiece. * Olivia Fitzsimons, author of The Quiet Whispers Never Stop * I loved How to Gut a Fish, and I love [Falling Animals] too. Armstrong's curiosity in the 'small' moments of people's lives is immersive and hypnotic. I found the novel to be tender and dark, alive with the sense that all destinies are intertwined. She is such a fabulous writer. * Megan Bradbury, author of Everyone is Watching * Utterly distinctive and memorable. * Strong Words * Set on a perfectly-realised west coast of Ireland... A book to savour and read, and analyse, again. * BookBrunch *

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