The Butchers (Paperback)Ruth Gilligan (author)
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***WINNER of the 2021 RSL Ondaatje Prize***
'I binged it like a Netflix show... It's stunning' Luke Kennard, author of The Transition
A photograph is hung on a gallery wall for the very first time since it was taken two decades before. It shows a slaughter house in rural Ireland, a painting of the Virgin Mary on the wall, a meat hook suspended from the ceiling - and, from its sharp point, the lifeless body of a man hanging by his feet.
The story of who he is and how he got there casts back into Irish folklore, of widows cursing the land and of the men who slaughter its cattle by hand. But modern Ireland is distrustful of ancient traditions, and as the BSE crisis in England presents get-rich opportunities in Ireland, few care about The Butchers, the eight men who roam the country, slaughtering the cows of those who still have faith in the old ways. Few care, that is, except for Fionn, the husband of a dying woman who still believes; their son Davey, who has fallen in love with the youngest of the Butchers; Gra, the lonely wife of one of the eight; and her 12-year-old daughter, Una, a girl who will grow up to carry a knife like her father, and who will be the one finally to avenge the man in the photograph.
Publisher: Atlantic Books
Number of pages: 304
Weight: 263 g
Dimensions: 198 x 129 x 22 mm
Gilligan writes with clarity and compassion, resulting in an outstanding contemporary twist on the great Irish novel. Enchanting, ethereal and enlightening. Highly recommended. * Irish Sunday Independent *
Exhilarating... I was hooked from the first page -- Donal Ryan, author of From a Low and Quiet Sea
The Butchers by Ruth Gilligan is a funny, sad, beautiful book that asks how you make a new life when your world changes. So much is packed into these pages about family, about greed, about love, and about desperation. Oh and it has the perfect ending. * Rowan Hisayo Buchanan, author of Harmless Like You and Starling Days *
Flawlessly, intricately plotted, but with such a compelling central mystery that I binged it like a Netflix show... The Butchers is deeply humane and astute on why we might take even the worst options available to us, at times deeply poignant and genuinely moving. It's stunning. * Luke Kennard, author of The Transition *
Plot twists worthy of Tana French... dark, wild, mythic, unsuspecting, and absolutely riveting -- Colum McCann, author of Apeirogon
This is a remarkable novel. The story is utterly compelling and the characters so well-drawn I found myself reading faster and faster as the plot progressed. Gilligan paints a disturbing portrait of rural Ireland which is both modern and ancient, firmly grounded in the realistic and hauntingly otherworldly. * Jan Carson, author of The Fire Starters *
Immersive... Gilligan is a writer I admire * Jess Kidd, Daily Mail *
I binged it like a Netflix show... It's stunning * Luke Kennard, author of The Transition *
I found The Butchers haunting and compelling. The relationships between daughter, mother and landscape move in strange harmony with a story about Irish modernity and masculinity. * Sarah Moss, author of Summerwater *
Excellent... completely gripping * Evie Wyld, author of The Bass Rock *
I loved The Butchers. Filmic and sensory, full of heifers and grift. * Naoise Dolan, author of Exciting Times *
It's gripping, Gothic, and moody. * Buzzfeed *
A subtle and enthralling novel * Sebastian Barry, author of A Thousand Moons *
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“A terrific read”
The first novel truly to capture the story of Ireland during the BSE crisis, shown through the small, deeply intimate stories of four people caught up in its wake.
Ruth Gilligan very skilfully weaves a narrative... More
“I adored this fantastic piece of Irish literature. Wonderful, captivating reading.”
1990s Ireland. BSE crisis.
This genre-defying novel is Gilligan's best yet. An excellent multi-viewpoint novel.
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“Something completely different - highly recommended”
I loved 'The Butchers'. The predominantly 1990s Irish setting feels remote and other worldly, yet also strangely contemporary, and the central mystery provides an intriguing backdrop for the cleverly... More
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