Kerry Group Novel of the Year Inch Levels is a haunting debut set in the harsh, beautiful landscape of Ireland’s north coast.
Patrick Jackson lies on his deathbed in Derry and recalls a family history marked by secrecy and silence, and a striking absence of conventional pieties. He remembers the death of an eight-year-old girl, whose body was found on reclaimed land called Inch Levels on the shoreline of Lough Swilly. And he is visited by his beloved but troubled sister Margaret and by his despised brother-in-law Robert, and by Sarah, his hard, unchallengeable mother.
Each of them could talk about events in the past that might explain the bleakness of their relationships, but leaving things unsaid has become a way of life. Guilt and memory beat against them, as shock waves from bombs in Derry travel down the river to shake the windows of those who have escaped the city.
Praise for Inch Levels:
‘A perceptive and moving study of remorse and resilience, of the legacy violence leaves behind, and of the intricacies of family life; in the world as Neil Hegarty conjures it, old secrets never die, and what’s past is never past’ John Banville.
‘Unsettling and thought-provoking, with just enough ambiguity and nuance to convince, this is a bold and well-crafted debut’ Irish Times.
‘Hegarty has a gift for lyrical description, and his authorial detachment adds to a pervading sense of bleakness’ Daily Mail.
‘An ambitious and engrossing debut novel … an intriguing blend of kidnap/murder mystery and fractured family history-fuelled drama infused with evocative descriptions … not everyone can spin a yarn as well as Neil Hegarty’ Irish News.
‘The topography of the north-east plays a leading role in the novel, its ragged shoreline, the skerries and islets in foaming waves, silver scree, hillside bracken and heather, all form a stable background to Jackson’s ephemeral memories … There is much to ponder in this exploration of how we view the past’ Sunday Independent.
‘Vividly evokes the wild beauty of the coastal landscape around Lough Swilly and reeled me in with its gradual revelation of family secrets’ Danielle McLaughlin, Irish Times.
‘Moving, intimate … an engrossing and enticing tale’ Irish Examiner.
‘An engaging novel which shows rather than tells, richly repaying close attention’ A Life in Books.
‘The tensions of blood relations, the wonders of our parents’ lives before us and the ever-widening depths of bereavement are all explored here with a hypnotic vividness. From natural details to perfectly rendered thought and feeling, this is a triumphant book’ A.L. Kennedy.
‘Written in an eloquent voice, with gorgeous descriptions of the passing seasons, the landscape and the world beyond Patrick’s hospital window’ Reading Matters Blog.