Apr 13, 2022
‘shape-shifting epic’ Poguemahone published today to great critical acclaim
Published today by Unbound, Pogumahone tells the story of Dan Fogarty, an Irishman living in England, is looking after his sister Una, now seventy and suffering from dementia in a care home in Margate.
From Dan’s anarchic account, we gradually piece together the story of the Fogarty family. How the parents are exiled from a small Irish village and end up living the hard immigrant life in England. How Dots, the mother, becomes a call girl in 1950s Soho. How a young and overweight Una finds herself living in a hippie squat in Kilburn in the early 1970s. How the squat appears to be haunted by vindictive ghosts who eat away at the sanity of all who live there.
And, finally, how all that survives now of those sex-and-drug-soaked times are Una’s unspooling memories as she sits outside in the Margate sunshine, and Dan himself, whose role in the story becomes stranger and more sinister.
Poguemahone is a wild, free-verse monologue, steeped in music and folklore, crammed with characters, both real and imagined, on a scale Patrick McCabe has never attempted before.
Praise for Poguemahone
“Poguemahone is a shape-shifting epic of the Irish in England, steeped in music and folklore, crammed with characters, both real and imagined, on a scale McCabe has never attempted before. …Modernist and eager to push the boundaries of his own art and the art form of the novel, here is a novelist and novel to celebrate in all their ribald, audacious, outrageous, and compelling brilliance”
Paul Perry, Sunday Independent
"If you’re looking for this century’s Ulysses, look no further than Patrick McCabe’s Poguemahone."
“The vernacular, drunken verse format may be daunting at first, but after a few pages the narrative develops a hypnotic rhythm, as if one is sitting on a barstool listening to the narrator unspool his story over a pint (or three). At this point, the reader has merely to hang on and enjoy the ride. A moving saga of youth, age, and memory—by turns achingly poetic, knowingly philosophical, and bitterly funny.”
"McCabe draws the reader into a rambling web replete with Gaelic folklore, IRA agitation, and a soundtrack of glam and progressive rock. Lively and ambitious in form, this admirably extends the range of McCabe’s career-long examination of familial and childhood trauma."
"The reader hears the book as something spoken aloud, or whispered, or snarled, or insinuated or spat into his ear. The voice is an insistent companion who, having got hold of an elbow, has no plans to stop until his hour is exhausted or the auditor collapses under the weight of memory, bile, repetition and implication."
"No one who read McCabe’s 1992 novel The Butcher Boy could forget its chilling depiction of a troubled schoolboy in 1960s Ireland. His latest, a dizzying verse novel 600 pages long, is equally likely to haunt the mind. It has so many layers that we’re never sure where we are ... with a skinpricking ambience that’s both gritty and ethereal."
The Daily Mail
"Poguemahone is a blistering, brilliant ballad of mad tales from rural Ireland to London Town, and all you might meet along your way. The characters are electric, the narrative fuelled with a brilliant frenetic energy—I loved this great song. McCabe is truly original."
Elaine Feeney, author of As You Were
"A tremendous pitch-black multi-layered epic. This exhilarating ride of madness, hauntings, lost weekends, and fractured memory is a lyrical poem, novel, ballad, and drama all in one ... one of the most original literary works of recent times. I bloody loved it."
Adelle Stripe, author of Black Teeth and a Brilliant Smile
"Pitched—deliriously—between high modernism and folk magic, between gorgeous free-verse and hilarious Irish vernacular, Poguemahone is a stunning achievement ... profoundly affecting"
The Front Row BBCR4 https://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/m001687v