The Salesman

The Salesman

Paperback

By (author) Joseph O'Connor

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  • Publisher: VINTAGE
  • Format: Paperback | 400 pages
  • Dimensions: 130mm x 194mm x 30mm | 259g
  • Publication date: 26 January 1999
  • Publication City/Country: London
  • ISBN 10: 0099268388
  • ISBN 13: 9780099268383
  • Sales rank: 215,811

Product description

It's Dublin, June 1995, the hottest summer since records began. But Billy Sweeney, a middle-aged salesman with a failed marriage, a faltering career and a tumbledown house, has more than weather on his mind. His youngest daughter lies in a coma in hospital following a mysterious attack on the petrol station where she worked. Devastated by the unfolding consequences of that hot, violent night, frustrated by officialdom and failed by the system, Billy finally tires of seeking legal justice. He decides to take the law into his own hands...

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Author information

Joseph O'Connor was born in Dublin. His books include six previous novels: Cowboys and Indians (Whitbread Prize shortlist), Desperadoes, The Salesman, Inishowen, Star of the Sea, and Redemption Falls. Star of the Sea became an international bestseller, winning the Irish Post Award for Fiction, an American Library Association Award, France's Prix Millepages, Italy's Premio Acerbi, and the Prix Madeleine Zepter for European Novel of the Year. His work has been published in thirty-five languages. www.josephoconnorauthor.com.

Review quote

"[A] gripping and moving thriller" Guardian "Like other young Irish writers, O'Connor brings into view a sharp and harsh image of contemporary Ireland. But this carries with it a feeling of emotional credibility not found in more traditional and stereotypical images of Irish life. It also brings a deeply ironic black humour of which the novel is full" Scotsman "Very near perfection. You'll be on the edge of your seat." The Literary Review

Editorial reviews

An astringent view of crime and punishment, Irish style, as seen through the eyes of a grieving father who's coming unraveled. Billy Sweeney, a salesman burdened by a long record of failures and disappointments, including an unsatisfying career and a now-empty marriage, finally finds something on which to focus his frustrated energies. Four thugs have beaten his daughter, the most outspoken and resilient of his grown children, into a coma. While one bully's been taken into custody, another - Donal Quinn - escapes, disappearing into the seedy back-streets of Dublin. Sweeney decides that since the law has failed so spectacularly to secure justice, he'll finish the job himself, tracking Quinn down and killing him. The narrative consists of Sweeney's journals; he compulsively sets down every detail of his search, as well as lengthy recollections of his early life, children, and marriage. And he addresses the journals to his stricken daughter: they serve both to justify his actions and to explore, for her benefit and his own, the seemingly mysterious ways in which his life has gone wrong. Along the way, O'Connor, novelist (Cowboys and Indians, 1992, etc.) and acerbic commentator (Sweet Liberty: Travels in Irish America, 1996, etc.), also weaves into the narrative a sharp, unsparing reflection on modern Ireland. The Dublin through which Sweeney moves is a rather anarchic place: family bonds count for far more than the law, and violent men still rule. His pursuit of Quinn brings him into contact with a violent underworld, and his stubborn persistence in his search precipitates a violent ending. O'Connor manages to keep the specifics fresh in what might otherwise seem a routine tale: Sweeney develops rather complex feelings about Quinn in learning more about his damaged life. And there's a nice play of unforced symbolism here. Sweeney's an Irish Everyman. His quest echoes, mordantly, that of Joyce's Ulysses. A deft, often angry, and moving portrait of the complexities of loss and vengeance. (Kirkus Reviews)