A stunning new novel from the two-time Man Booker shortlisted author of The Secret Scripture. Sebastian Barry's latest novel, Days Without End, is now available.
Irishman Jack McNulty is a “temporary gentleman”—an Irishman whose commission in the British army in World War II was never permanent. Sitting in his lodgings in Accra, Ghana, in 1957, he’s writing the story of his life with desperate urgency. He cannot take one step further without examining all the extraordinary events that he has seen. A lifetime of war and world travel—as a soldier in World War II, an engineer, a UN observer—has brought him to this point. But the memory that weighs heaviest on his heart is that of the beautiful Mai Kirwan, and their tempestuous, heartbreaking marriage. Mai was once the great beauty of Sligo, a magnetic yet unstable woman who, after sharing a life with Jack, gradually slipped from his grasp.
Award-winning author Sebastian Barry’s The Temporary Gentleman is the sixth book in his cycle of separate yet interconnected novels that brilliantly reimagine characters from Barry’s own family.
The latest novel from Barry (The Whereabouts of Eneas McNulty) is a lyrical but ironic period story. Jack McNulty (Eneas's younger brother), of Sligo, Ireland, first appears during WWII, as a soldier in Britain's army, en route to Africa and admiring a peaceful sea, moments before a submarine torpedoes his ship. When we next see him, in 1957, Jack is living in self-imposed exile in Ghana, recalling his days as a soldier and civil servant, and as a suitor, lover, and husband to the haunting and haunted Mai Kirwan. Jack courts Mai avidly; then, after they marry, he gambles away her inheritance and allows creditors to take their house. Having left his two daughters in Ireland, Jack finds a close companion in Ghana: his houseboy, Tom Quaye. Jack must flee the country, however, after a drunken night out with Tom that ends in violence. Even while preparing to leave, Jack's thoughts return to the past: helping his mother research their family's history, defusing unexploded German bombs in England, and working as both a U.N. observer and a gunrunner in Africa. With this complex portrait of a man rooted in his hometown but drawn into a wider warring world, Barry again proves himself a prose artist and a skilled navigator of the rocky shoals of modern morality and Irish heritage.