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I Could Read the Sky Timothy O'Grady (author), Steve Pyke (photographer)

I Could Read the Sky Timothy O'Grady (author), Steve Pyke (photographer)

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 I Could Read the Sky Timothy O'Grady (author), Steve Pyke (photographer)

I Could Read the Sky is a collaboration, in the shape of a lyrical novel, between writer Timothy O'Grady and photographer Steve Pyke. It tells the story of a man coming of age in the middle of this century. Now at its end, he finds himself alone, struggling to make sense of a life of dislocation and loss. He remembers his childhood in the west of Ireland and his decades of bewildered exile in the factories, potato fields and on the building sites of England. He is haunted by the faces of the family he left behind and by the land that is still within him. He remembers the country and the seascapes, the bars and the boxing booths, the music he played, and the woman he loved.

‘Think about a tune … the unsayable, the invisible, the longing in music. Here is a book of tunes without musical notes … It wrings the heart’ John Berger

'The voice that O'Grady has crafted succeeds so well...running in parallel, Pyke's stark arresting images are laced between the paragraphs and chapters. The interplay between the two mediums is delicately powerful' Hilary White

‘A masterpiece’ Robert Macfarlane

‘O’Grady does not just respond to Pyke’s stark, beautiful photographs: he gives voice to thousands’ Louise Kennedy

‘The experience of Irish emigration uniquely and powerfully illuminated’ Mark Knopfler

‘If the words tell the story of the voiceless, the bleak lovely photographs show their faces. Fiction rarely gets as close to the messy, glorious truth as do memories and photographs. This rare novel dares to use both’ Charlotte Mendelson, TLS

An old man lies alone and sleepless in London. Before dawn he is taken by an image from his childhood in the West of Ireland, and begins to remember a migrant’s life. Haunted by the faces and the land he left behind, he calls forth the bars and boxing booths of England, the potato fields and building sites, the music he played and the woman he loved.

Timothy O’Grady’s tender, vivid prose and Steve Pyke’s starkly beautiful photographs combine to make a unique work of fiction, an act of remembering suffused with loss, defiance and an unforgettable loveliness. An Irish life with echoes of the lives of unregarded migrant workers everywhere. Since it was first published in 1997, I Could Read the Sky has achieved the status of a classic.

About the Photographer:

Steve Pyke MBE, HonFRPS is a renowned photographer known for his intimate and intense black and white portraits of extraordinary thinkers, creators, and artists of our time. He has spent the last 40 years seeing the world through a creative lens. Born in Leicester, UK and residing in London and NYC for many years. Steve now lives and works in New Orleans, Louisiana.

About the Writer:

Timothy O’Grady was born in Chicago and has lived in Ireland, London, Spain and Poland. He is the author of four works of non-fiction and three novels.

His novel Motherland won the David Higham award for the best first novel in 1989. His novel I Could Read the Sky, a collaboration with photographer Steve Pyke, won the Encore Award for best second novel of 1997. I Could Read the Sky was filmed and also travelled as a stage show. His most recent novel is Light, published in 2004.

Publisher: Unbound
ISBN: 9781800182714
Number of pages: 272
Dimensions: 198 x 129 mm

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