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“The narrator of Ciaran Collins's remarkable first novel, The Gamal, has been encouraged by a mental health professional to write his story for therapeutic purposes. Charlie McCarthy, 25, is known in the West Cork village of Ballyronan as "the gamal," short for "gamalog," a term for a fool or simpleton rarely heard beyond the Gaeltacht regions of Ireland. He is in fact a savant, a sensitive oddball whose cheeky, strange, defiant and witty monologue is as disturbing as it is dazzling… The novel's greatest gift is the playful language that celebrates the thrill and desperation of living in this small country town.” ―New York Times Book Review
“Astonishing. Inventive. Playful. Unique. A novel to savour. Ciarán Collins is the real deal” ―Colum McCann
“Perfectly captures the joys and sorrows of adolescence and the maddening claustrophobia of a small Irish village. Its nearest literary ancestor would be The Catcher in the Rye” ―Edna O'Brien
“In his first novel, Collins has done a masterful job of creating a memorable voice for his narrator and situations that are haunting in their poignancy and sadness. As characters, Sinead and James are as well crafted as Charlie himself, and all their lives and stories are unforgettable. The Gamal is an extraordinarily accomplished debut.” ―Booklist (starred review)
“A brilliant, baffling, and twisted riff on Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet that readers will not be able to put down.” ―Library Journal (starred review)
“A new literary star.” ―Irish Echo
“[A] remarkable debut novel… Once in a while a novel from Ireland appears that has the power to make you reassess how you think and feel about the country. This year that head turning distinction belongs to Ciaran Collins, 35, the working school teacher whose debut novel The Gamal has garnered more praise in six months that most authors hear in a lifetime…There's more than a hint of The Catcher in the Rye at work in this absorbing tale, but Collins has the skill to make you welcome the comparison. The fact is The Gamal describes Irish rural life and manners so evocatively that you'll be spellbound from the first to last page… With a writing style that at times faintly echoes Roddy Doyle's and Pat McCabe's, Collins is still very much his own man, an immensely assured writer confident of his narrative gifts and in his ability to beguile the reader, making The Gamal one of the best debuts I have read in a decade…A tragicomic awareness has shaped Collins' hilarious and terrifying new novel, the first truly accomplished work of post-collapse Ireland. In The Gamal he holds up a bright polished mirror and shows us our own faces.” ―Irish Voice
“Funny, smart, and warm, here's a voice that will catch you by surprise.” ―David Vann
“Brilliant, a sign of more inventive things to come from a writer with powerful imagination, empathy, and a cutting sense of humor… The Gamal is a riveting, sometimes terrifying, and heartbreaking look at insidious small-town jealousy and the things people do for love.” ―Irish America
“People have compared [The Gamal] to Roddy Doyle, Patrick McCabe and Paul Murray but it has an energy, a range and a confidence all of its own . . . . Astonishing . . . Collins will go on and produce a career of wonderful work.” ―Evie Wyld, Flavorwire
“A ferocious, heartbreaking confessional with a real voice.” ―Kirkus Review
Far too overwritten, too repetitive, with a million gimmicks to keep it going. Felt to me like it was better meant for teenagers, to give them something to keep them occupied. Read morePublished 4 months ago by A Reader
I was blown away by this novel, absolutely. Someone on the cover said this already, I couldn't agree more - this IS the real deal. Fabulous. True, tender, terrible, terrific.Published 7 months ago by trish rogers
This is one of the best novels I've ever read. The first person narration is brilliant, and all the characters deeply realized. Read morePublished 9 months ago by Catherine S. Kemelmacher
Excellent read, captures small time Irish town life incredibly.Published 16 months ago by Amazon Customer
The Gamal by Ciaran Collins is A Book Apart!
Charlie, who is known in his local village of Ballyronan as The Gamal, is... Read more
I liked that the book was very easy reading. A complex story, but easy to follow the many local characters. Read morePublished 21 months ago by vdwilliams
More people should read this book. No, it is not Great Literature, but it is well worth reading, especially if you enjoy the genre of modern British underclass fiction.Published 21 months ago by Philip E. Bowles