Pages: 368
Subject: Fiction
Imprint: Oneworld


Winner of the Kerry Group Irish Novel of the Year

Paul Lynch

An epic story of a young girl on a life-changing odyssey across nineteenth-century Ireland on the eve of the Great Famine
9781786073051 (7 Sep 2017)
RRP £12.99

The Book






Winter is closing in and Ireland is in the grip of famine. Early one October morning, Grace's mother snatches her from sleep, brutally cuts her hair and tells her: ‘You are the strong one now.' 


Her mother fits her up in men's clothes and casts her out, as she is no longer safe at home. With her younger brother Colly in tow, the two set off on a remarkable journey against the looming shadow of their country's darkest hour.

Additional Information

Subject Fiction
Pages 368
Imprint Oneworld


About the Author

Paul Lynch is the author of the novels Red Sky in Morning and The Black Snow. He won France's Prix Libr'à Nous for Best Foreign Novel, and was a finalist for the Prix du Meilleur Livre Étranger (Best Foreign Book Prize). He lives in Dublin with his wife and daughter.


‘The Irish writer's third novel raises timeless questions about suffering and survival through the story of two children expelled from their impoverished home in the midst of the Great Famine. When you're starving, Lynch seems to be asking, are you truly alive?'

- Editors' Choice, The New York Times Book Review

‘This book is one of the most beautiful I have read in a long time. Heart wrenching and so moving, with language that makes your soul sing.'

- Caitriona Balfe, actress and star of Outlander

‘Grace is a moving work of lyrical and at times hallucinatory beauty...that reads like a hybrid of John Steinbeck's The Grapes of Wrath and Cormac McCarthy's The Road.'

- Washington Post

‘A profound and unusual coming-of-age story.'

- Sunday Times

‘A shudderingly well written, dead-real, hallucinatory trip across Famine Ireland.'

- Emma Donoghue, author of Room

‘Haunting and poetic… Lynch has given us poignant glimpses of the human body's limits, that peculiar messiness of identity, and what happens when parts of a society fail to help, or even acknowledge, those in need.'

- Irish Times

‘The newly crowned winner of the Kerry Group Irish Novel of the Year award... Lynch's book is a celebration of the human spirit in even the most trying of circumstances and the steps we take to ensure our survival.'

- Irish Independent

‘It's not just style that makes this an unforgettable book. Its heroine, 14-year-old Grace, may not have much to say for herself, but her younger brother, Colly, is a gleefully riddling, smutty delight. Separated by a tragedy soon after they are expelled from home to fend for themselves, Colly's irresistible voice continues to ring in Grace's ears. What ensues is full of incident and grotesques, fizzing with adventure, a counter to the enervating effects of their starvation. But gradually it becomes a darker book as hunger eats away at humanity — and the darker it gets, the more [Lynch's] unerring gifts are confirmed.'

- Daily Mail

‘Lynch is frighteningly skilled...searing images into the mind and forcing you to press carefully through sentences as if they are strips of long grass.'

- Sunday Independent (Dublin)

‘Lynch…has a particular gift for finding the unexpected yet compelling image that conveys the anomalous nature of this otherworld…. [The] poetic prose is at deliberate odds with the stark horror it depicts, and yet the four blank, black pages at the terrible climax of Grace's journey are as eloquent as anything else on the unspeakable tragedy of the Famine.'


‘Lynch brilliantly conveys the rabid effects of the famine on his characters…and he offers us a worthy heroine to guide us through it.'

- Irish Examiner

‘A literary beauty… It is the saddest, heaviest, most beautiful, lyrical [novel], one of the most stunning books I've read in recent times. I would urge you to read it.' 

- Ryan Tubridy, The Tubridy Show, RTE

‘Paul Lynch's third novel, Grace, which pushes the Famine novel into territory even richer and stranger still. As a writer, Lynch is sui generis. His style is bold, grandiose, mesmeric. He strives for large effects, wrestles with big ideas. In Melville's formulation, he is one of those writers who dares "to dive” into the darkest recesses of the soul, risking all to surface clutching the pearl….

Lynch has been compared to greats such as Cormac McCarthy, Faulkner and Beckett, while others have located him in the Irish gothic tradition of Stoker and le Fanu. Original talent often inspires critical confusion, so perhaps best to say Lynch defies easy categorisation. Meanwhile, the writer has staked out his literary terrain and is again ploughing it with customary verve and gusto…'

- Burt Wright, The Sunday Times Ireland

‘A mesmerizing, incandescent work of art. It's all things together - a tragedy, an adventure, a romance, a coming-of-age, a searing exposition of historical truths; an interrogation of the nature of time and existence. Above all it's a perfect story, an exhilarating, Odyssean, heartpounding, glorious story, wrought by a novelist with the eye and the ear and the heart of an absolute master. Paul Lynch is peerless. Grace Coyle, daughter of Coll, will be one of the enduring heroines of world literature.'

- Donal Ryan, Booker-nominated author of The Spinning Heart

‘An epic tale of endurance, which in Lynch's deft hands is harrowing and simultaneously starkly beautiful.'

- Esquire (Best Books of 2017 So Far)

‘When you finish, you feel like saying "wow". Under your breath perhaps, but do not be hard on yourself if you shout it out, because this is a work of staggering beauty and deep insight.'

- Sydney Morning Herald

‘I knew a little about Grace before I picked it up, having been to Paul Lynch's reading of his most recent work, but I was still taken aback at the subtle beauty with which he renders one girl's experience in the Irish Famine. Grace, the story's protagonist, is forced out of her home by her own mother, who cuts off her hair and tells her, "You are the strong one now.” Lynch never shies away from the subject matter—the impossibly gruelling winters Grace faces, the people she meets and can never trust, the heartbreak of losing a family member—but he entwines it all with prose that sways from brutally realistic scenes into the fullness of the landscape and back again in just a few words. Though the story could have been overwrought, in Lynch's deft hands I found myself enthralled as Grace cuts herself a path through a forbidding world.'

- Johanna Zwirner, The Paris Review

‘Passionately lyrical…Grace belongs to several great traditions — the picaresque novel, the coming-of-age novel, and the orphan novel… [this] is a relentless novel, but Lynch allows his heroine a true complexity of feeling — about her brother, her mother, Bart, and what she sees happening around her — that allows the reader to empathize even as we wring our hands. Grace is not only a gripping tale about an appalling period in history — although that would be quite enough — but also, sadly, piercingly relevant.'

- Boston Globe

‘Lynch's wonderful third novel follows a teenage girl through impoverished Ireland at the height of the Great Famine…Lynch's powerful, inventive language intensifies the poignancy of the woe that characterizes this world of have-nothings struggling to survive.'

- Publishers Weekly (starred review)

‘A gifted Irish author offers another take on his country's Great Famine through the eyes of a teenage girl as she travels through a land wracked by want....This is a writer who wrenches beauty even from the horror that makes a starving girl think her "blood is trickling over the rocks of my bones.”'

- Kirkus (starred review)

‘Paul Lynch's novel Grace is a work of great lyricism. Its beautiful prose is put to devastating effect in his vivid story of the Irish potato famine, which killed at least a million people. From the opening page we travel with fourteen-year-old Grace as she is sent out from Donegal, seemingly banished by her mother, but actually in a desperate attempt to save her life. We never leave her side as starving Grace navigates her way south, encountering myriad dangers on the desolate roads. Lynch's narrative gripped us from the start and never let us go. It haunted the judges long after the final line.'

- The Walter Scott Prize for Historical Fiction Judges

Grace feels as though it has already claimed its place among great Irish literature.'

- Bookpage

‘Grace's journey is thrilling enough but Lynch's poetic and cinematic prose endows her with a voice that should make her a classic of Irish literature.'

- Bookbrowse

‘A beautifully written novel, with a haunting story and deep echoes of the Ancients.'

- Edna O’Brien, author of The Country Girls

‘Lynch makes the page sing like the old masters.'


- Philipp Meyer, author of The Son

‘A poetic coming-of-age story set during Ireland's Great Famine.'

- Emerald Street

‘The power of Paul Lynch's imagination is truly startling; his ability to inhabit and deeply understand the moments, both slight and shattering, of a life and of an era translates into an instinct not just for story, but for the most hidden, most forceful currents of language and what they can do.'

- Belinda McKeon, author of Tender

‘As McCarthy answered Faulkner, Lynch offers the most convincing answer to McCarthy that we've seen yet in literature. Lynch sacrifices none of the rigor and menace while summoning an emotional power that leaves one stunned at times. Grace is a novel of surpassing beauty and moral weight, and Lynch is a prodigious talent, with a sorcerer's command of the language and an extraordinary artistic integrity. This is a masterwork.'

- Matthew Thomas, author of We Are Not Ourselves

‘If you took the most overwhelming and distilled moments of a life - those instants when even a small brush of the wind over a stream seems to speak to the whole problem of living - and scattered them along an Irish riverside during that country's great famine, you might arrive at Grace. This is a major work of lasting, powerful feelings that might find a place amidst your memories of Light in August and Huckleberry Finn.'

- Will Chancellor, author of A Brave Man Seven Storeys Tall

‘Grace is fierce wonder, a journey that moves with the same power and invention as the girl at its center. What Paul Lynch brings to these pages is more than mere talent--it's a searing commitment to story and soul, and in witnessing Grace's transformations, one can't help but feel changed too. This novel is faith, poetry, lament, and triumph; its mark is not only luminous, but it promises to never fade.'

- Affinity Konar, author of Mischling

‘From the savage scalp-shearing of its start, through pages of figurative and literal black, to the ‘good blue days' of its end, Grace is a thing of power and of wonder. Paul Lynch writes novels the way we need them to be written: as if every letter of every word mattered. This whole book is on fire.'

- Laird Hunt, author of Neverhome

‘One of his generation's very finest novelists.'

- Ron Rash, author of Serena


- Library Journal

‘Grace is a masterful sequel to Red Sky in Morning; a beautifully written, lyrical portrait of a young girl coming of age during the Great Famine. Lynch's Ireland is a land of sadness, harsh reality and starvation, yet there is beauty found in the air, the sky and even the insects. The prose flows like good Irish whiskey and compels readers to keep drinking in Lynch's words; sometimes so poetic they read like a James Joyce novel.'

- RT Book Reviews

‘An epic book of black splendour.'

- Le Monde

‘The new book by Paul Lynch, author of the critically-acclaimed and quite good Red Sky in Morning, is a different undertaking in both scope and power than anything this author has written before. Grace, set in bitterly impoverished mid-19th century Donegal at the dawn of the Irish Potato Famine, shares the linguistic virtuosity of Lynch's earlier books and their tone of threnody; these aren't beach reads, unless your beach is rocky, dark, and freezing cold - so, come to think of it: Irish beaches. But in these pages Lynch has deepened and refined his art considerably - there are entire sections of the book that are unforgettable.'

- Open Letters Monthly

‘Paul Lynch is one of the great Irish writers of today.'

- Libération

‘In celebrated Irish novelist Lynch's (The Black Snow, 2015) latest tale, Grace is harshly thrust out into the world by her mother, who can think of no other way to protect her blossoming 14-year-old… As her hardscrabble odyssey continues, she begins to develop in unexpected ways, her eyes opening to both ruthless reality and limitless possibilities. Growing into womanhood as a wanderer, Grace rises above cruel circumstances to control her own destiny in remarkably surprising directions, casting new light on this grim and pivotal era in Irish history.'

- Booklist

Grace is an epic fresco, a picaresque novel as much as a stirring coming of age story...reminiscent of the apocalyptic landscapes of Cormac McCarthy, the lyrical desolation of William Faulkner and the collapsing language of Samuel Beckett.'

- La Vie

‘Lynch is a beautiful writer and Grace is my new, favourite literary heroine.'

- Image magazine

‘Paul Lynch probes the heart of the human condition with flamboyant lyricism. With only three novels, he is already an inimitable voice  a hallucinatory realism with an incantatory, hypnotic prose.'

- Le Temps, Switzerland

‘A compelling and evocative read.'

- Galway City Tribune

‘A masterly work, at once a coming-of-age novel, intimate, social and historical. A work that digs the human psyche and that of a country.' 

- Le Soir, Belgium

‘Incantatory and magical.' 

- Les Echos

‘A beautifully honest and frighteningly poignant tale of blight and fight.'

- The Skinny

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