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Waiting for the Healer

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Waiting for the Healer

Current Status:
In Season
Eamonn Sweeney

We gave it a B+

”I loved pubs even before I was an alcoholic,” confesses the hero of this remarkable first novel steeped in Irish liquid lore. In Waiting for the Healer, when his brother is murdered, Paul Kelly returns to the Rathbawn slums and confronts his secret terrors, as reflected in a sister who sees blood seeping from the walls, a brawling friend whose every social gesture is a preemptive strike (”Bumper Reilly will never be cowed”), and the crowd of defeated men who wait outside the pubs each morning for that first drink of the day, known as ”the healer.” Sweeney’s language fuses residual Gaelic lilt with staccato rapster rhythms and obscenities. The MTV generation takes over the Irish novel and makes it startlingly new. B+