No Country

No Country by Kalyan Ray for those of you who love history because this one goes between Ireland, India and American (with a cameo in Canada) over the course of 140-odd-years including some historical events.

It starts in County Sligo, Ireland in 1843 with two friends Padriag and Brendan. Brendan is bookish wheras Brendan is in love with Bridgit. When Father Conlon catches Padriag and Bridgit in the act, he sets in motion that changes the lives of the two friends (and Bridgit) forever.

That is because next we find Padriag (who talks of Irish independence)  on a ship after he goes north to listen to a speaker talk and things happen, to India. Meanwhile Brendan and the nice schoolmaster take care of Maeve in Ireland but are forced to leave because of the Potato Famine and find themselves in Vermont after a series of misadventures (including being stranded on an iceberg).

Then you fast forward to the next generation- Padriag’s daughter in Vermont and his son in India. Theses stories as his son goes into the police and Maeve struggles with her battles, eventually having her own child. While in India, Brendan struggles with the police and right and wrong.

Then the endings that come with Devi (descendant from Brendan’s friends) and Kush (Brendan’s son) and Billy (Maeve’s daughter’s son) and there struggles with identity, loss, faith in which converges to the ending which is gut-wrenching and also beautiful at the same time.

No Country is beautifully written and a testament of immigrants and the paths they forge for the next generation. A must read.

Sam.

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