“On Canaan’s Side”September 2, 2011 at 8:14 am | Posted in Fiction | 2 Comments
Moving right along, I hurried to read On Canaan’s Side because I love Sebastian Barry. Comparisons with The Secret Scripture can’t be avoided, because it was short-listed for the Booker in 2008.
Another point of obvious comparison is that the protagonists of both books are very elderly Irish women. Both are imbued with history; both contain dark secrets. Both showcase Barry’s elegiac prose; both women seem to find moments of happiness and grace in otherwise tragic lives.
Now, I don’t want to say this, and it’s been a couple of years, but I think I was more impressed with The Secret Scripture. I mean, I fell in love with that book halfway through the first page. Reading it felt like praying. I would say that On Canaan’s Side is definitely a powerful book, I’m just not sure I could say it surpasses Barry’s previous effort.
I’m putting it in my “maybe” stack for the short list this year.