Nominated by:

Tampere City Library, Finland

Publisher of nominated edition:

Harvill Secker, UK

The Thrill of It All

Joseph O’Connor      

2016 Longlist

At college in 1980s Luton, Robbie Goulding, an Irish-born teenager, meets the elusive Fran Mulvey, an orphaned Vietnamese refugee. Together they form a band. Joined by cellist Sarah-Thérèse Sherlock and her twin brother Seán on drums, The Ships in the Night set out to chase fame. But the story of this makeshift family is haunted by ghosts from the past.

Spanning 25 years, The Thrill of it All rewinds and fast-forwards through an evocative soundtrack of struggle and laughter. Infused with blues, ska, classic showtunes, New Wave and punk, using interviews, lyrics, memoirs and diaries, the tale stretches from suburban England to Manhattan’s East Village, from Thatcher-era London to the Hollywood Bowl, from the meadows of the Glastonbury Festival to a wintry Long Island, culminating in a Dublin evening in July 2012, a night that changes everything.

A story of loyalties, friendship, the call of the muse, and the beguiling shimmer of teenage dreams, this is a warm-hearted, funny and deeply moving novel for anyone that’s ever loved a song.

(from publisher)

About the Author

Joseph O’Connor was born in Dublin. He has written several novels including: Star of the Sea (American Library Association Award, Irish Post Award for Fiction, France’s Prix Millepages, Italy’s Premio Acerbi, Prix Madeleine Zepter for European novel of the year), Redemption Falls and Ghost Light (Dublin One City One Book Novel 2011). His fiction has been published in forty languages. He received the 2012 Irish PEN Award for outstanding achievement in literature and in 2014 he was appointed Frank McCourt Professor of Creative Writing at the University of Limerick.

Librarian’s Comments

To succeed in writing a novel about the music business appears to be almost as hard – if not even harder – than actually making it in the said business. However, O’Connor pulls it off admirably, his take on the subject manages to capture and convey “the thrill of it all” well and truly. The fragile interpersonal relationship of the protagonists has been portrayed in a particularly convincing manner. Ships in the night, indeed…

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