From Publishers Weekly
Irish poet and filmmaker Lynch's first novel is an engaging fictional account of the life of the little-remembered 18th-century English poet William Cowper. Told primarily in flashback, Lynch introduces Cowper as an old man, plagued by self-loathing, sickness and hallucinations. His formative years are marked by the death of his mother and early inclinations toward poetry, contemplating the taste of words. Along with the major figures in Cowper's life—the charismatic Rev. John Newton, real-life author of Amazing Grace; John Johnson, Cowper's young cousin; and Mary Unwin, the love of his life—Lynch also lends Dickensian detail to minor characters, using them skillfully to provide an orbiting view. Lynch takes a serial approach, managing to take readers by surprise in every short chapter, whether terrifying (as in the height of Cowper's hallucinations) or hilarious ([p]oetry and puking were hardly ideal companions). This curious novel captures the sad poet from all angles, reimagining his life in a gracefully sprawling epic. (Feb.)
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"At once moving, instructive and slyly funny, that rare thing, a recuperation of a poet by a poet." --John Banville
"If you want the low-down and high-down on the delicate, brutal reality of a poet's life, you must read The Winner of Sorrow." --Paul Durcan
"An exceptional Irish writer." --Thomas Kilroy, Irish Independent