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The Starved Lover Sings Paperback – April 13, 2017
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About the Author
Colin O’Sullivan lives in the north of Japan with his family and works as an English teacher.
His short fiction and poetry have been published in various print and online anthologies and magazines, including A Living Word (anthology of Irish writers), Staple New Writing, The Stinging Fly, These are Our Lives and Cork Literary Review.
Colin O’Sullivan’s first novel, Killarney Blues, captivated critics and readers alike and has been translated into French.
“Colin O’Sullivan writes with a style and a swagger all his own. His voice – unique, strong, startlingly expressive – both comes from and adds to Ireland’s long and lovely literary lineage. Like many of that island’s sons and daughters, O’Sullivan sends language out on a gleeful spree, exuberant, defiant, ever-ready for a party. Only a soul of stone could resist joining in.” —Niall Griffiths, author of A Great Big Shining Star
“His words swagger with purpose, never meandering too long on a scene, always moving the story forward, even when it goes back in time, like a faded photograph coming into view. Lyrical to a point, one word flowing to the next, hardly stopping.” —LoveSexAndOtherDirtyWords.com
“Marvellous novel, endearing, moving, fascinating. I adored it. O’Sullivan is a real writing talent.” —Jean-Paul Gratias, literary translator
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Top customer reviews
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This novel is by turns grimly comedic and a warped reflection of our current realities. A prime minister known only as the 13th (or is the 14th?) builds walls to keep tsunamis out and contemplates construction projects on the sea bed while lawlessness reigns on the streets and all authority figures have been eliminated. The hero is an Everyman but the circumstances are every man for himself. Yet he hopes to rise above the villains and freaks and steadfastly keeps us on his side in this first-person narrative even when desperate thoughts take over.
O'Sullivan's lush vocabulary and playful phrasing reinvigorate the perennial appeal of the dystopian novel. The Starved Lover Sings is richly layered, thought-provoking and surprisingly uplifting. I have already highly recommended it by word of mouth and I do the same here.
But watch out for those two girls!
Colin O’Sullivan’s second novel describes the journey of his protagonist who just wants to achieve one simple goal: “I do so want to be the hero of this tale.”
Nemoto is navigating an existential crisis that is being fueled by a multitude of factors. Is he a hero for continuing to live in this devastated area or a fool for refusing to flee to warmer and more affluent climes? Is he a fool for spurning the advances of his sexy “sister-in-lure” (my second favorite line in the novel) who helps him care for his wife or a paragon for honoring his marital commitment? Should he be praised for engaging in friendly banter with the prostitute whom he regularly encounters on his nightly walks or a fool for refusing her discounted services?
O’Sullivan has created a world for his protagonist and set it in the not-too-distant future where high school students are required to constantly wear headsets that provide a steady stream of information from the central government, markets are flooded by cheap products by The Amalgamated Republic of China and the Koreas (ARCK), and people watch 4D images on WaScs or personal hologram shows (PHSs) mounted on the walls of their houses.
However, this novel is much more than a simple dystopian sci-fi story about characters dealing with post-apocalyptic events. O’Sullivan’s lyrical and moving and humorous meditation focuses on the struggles of Nemoto who always envisioned a blissful family life that would surmount its shotgun-wedding roots: “Of course, we thought [our daughter] would be around. We thought our land could withstand the terrible hands it kept being dealt. We thought our lives would take altogether different routes, we thought many things.”
Nemoto shows a high degree of self- awareness, experiencing a moment of clarity about his own culpability as he accepts that “. . . . I am mostly mistaken in most of my affairs, that I have become morally. . . waylaid, and I miss my mother, I do, and I must not give up on my wife. There may yet be time for a hero to emerge from all of this morbidity, and I think it may well be me.”
But Nemoto remains an unlikely hero, admitting on more than one occasion that “I don’t know the rules of the world.”
O’Sullivan’s novel is an entertaining, thoughtful read that provides a window on one bleak (however unlikely) scenario for Japan’s future, and perhaps, for the rest of the industrialized world: continued reliance on technology and devices for entertainment and distractions, fewer and fewer resources being unequally distributed, and more frequent and more devastating disasters, both man-made and natural. In this world, even the mountains and the oceans have voices and provide commentary on the stupidity and the hubris of humans.
Oh, my favorite line: “It is her turn to sigh, and it is big.” So much beauty and pathos compacted in one simple phrase.
This was another stellar offering from the Killarney man. Throughout O'Sullivan's latest work, we sense Tombo's torment. As a reader, I was both uneasy and riveted. You might say this was an awesome, pumping, powerhouse of a novel. With his works, there are returns to similar themes from time to time, but overall, they are all very different stories in very different settings. Loved this.
The earthquake. Tsunami. Fukushima. The post whatever psychological damage this has left behind is the latest foundation to create realistic fiction. We turn to writers to think this stuff out. Or at least we used to, and still should.
Wealth and prosperity and Westernization have already deeply eroded Japan's moral core. O'Sullivan has created a realistic dystopian near future Japan that needs its traditional base to deal with life after its technological heyday failed to save the devastated infrastructure. The challenge is dealing with what it means to be Japanese in a disintegrating Japan.
But it's also a story. This book doesn't hide behind post-modern obscurity or bury itself in noir. Instead, it's a sweeping tale of characters living in tough situations. This is an important book for those curious about the very curious Japanese.