Irish writer Mike McCormack’s wonderful novel Solar Bones was longlisted for the 2017 Man Booker Prize. It also won the Goldsmiths Prize and Irish Book Awards Novel of the Year. I was excited to read McCormack’s new book, This Plague Of Souls.
We are first introduced to the main character, Nealon, after his return to his West Ireland residence, but his arrival is disrupted by a sinister anonymous caller repeatedly requesting a private meeting.
McCormack cleverly scatters crumbs throughout the early part of the story: we know that Nealon has spent time in prison, but we don’t know why; we know that his wife has left him, taking their young child with her, but her reasons are unknown. When the caller uses the whereabouts of Nealon’s family as a bargaining chip, Nealon agrees on the phone to meet the unknown man.
The skillfully built tension escalates even further as Nealon drives into the night. The novel offers more glimpses, this time about the global corporate reach within his apparent rural idyll. Ireland hosts the world’s largest manufacturer of Botox's headquarters, sitting like a giant spaceship, surreal and out of place in the natural landscape. These partial revelations, hints and secrets, reach a climax when the two men finally meet.
This Plague Of Souls creates a gripping tone of unease which ultimately connects rural Ireland with the brutalities of the modern world. It also questions a man’s attempt to escape his past while striving to create a stable family life.
The new novel from the prize-winning author of Solar Bones exploring judgement, penance, loss and recovery