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Friday 28 January 2022

We Are Not In The World by Conor O'Callaghan BLOG TOUR #WeAreNotInTheWorld #ConorOCallaghan @DoubledayUK @PenguinUKBooks @tabithapelly #BookReview


Heartbroken after a long, painful love affair, a man drives a haulage lorry from England to France. Travelling with him is a secret passenger - his daughter. Twenty-something, unkempt, off the rails.

With a week on the road together, father and daughter must restore themselves and each other, and repair a relationship that is at once fiercely loving and deeply scarred.

As they journey south, down the motorways, through the service stations, a devastating picture reveals itself: a story of grief, of shame, and of love in all its complex, dark and glorious manifestations.

We Are Not In The World by Conor O'Callaghan was published in paperback on 27 January 2022 by Penguin. My thanks to the publisher who sent my copy for review as part of this #RandomThingsTours blog tour.

We Are Not In The World is a slim volume, the paperback is just 272 pages long but it's story that needs to be savoured, no rushing here. The writing is sparse and taut, the characters are a joy to discover. It's a novel that challenges, due to the structure and the content, yet it left such a lasting impression upon this reader. 

It's a story of journeys. The lead characters; Paddy and Kitty set off from England to France in a borrowed lorry, their journey is not just one of miles covered, it encompasses their whole lifetime. We learn how Paddy is heartbroken after a long affair with a married woman, and how Kitty has been estranged from him for many years. As they travel the miles, with Kitty hidden away, the reader becomes an earnest listener too. Paddy explores his life, with many regrets, and some bitterness toward people who have featured in it. 

It's fair to say that this is a fragmented story, the structure is unusual, often not linear and sometimes challenging. However, the strength here is in the writing, the creation of beautiful prose and the quite stunning insight into the life of a man who is ordinary, whilst also being extraordinary. 

The author cleverly involves Irish folklore within the story, with Paddy relating the tales of Oisín and Tír na nÓg, the reader comes to realise that these tales reflect Paddy's own experiences and add such depth to the novel. 

With a overwhelming sense of dread throughout, we are not sure just what Paddy will reveal next, and yet there's also a feeling of warmth that builds between the characters, this is a challenging, complex read and does take some settling into. 

A novel of relationships, grief, sorrow and re-building and one that I have much admiration for. 

Conor O'Callaghan is originally from Dundalk, and now divides his time between Dublin and the North of England. 

His critically acclaimed first novel Nothing on Earth was published by Doubleday Ireland in 2016. 

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