The Eskimo in the Net
‘This book is so good that it is hard to believe that such a mature work is a first novel…a vivid and very moving attempt to make us kiss the cold realities of individual existence’ Daily Express
“Everything started to go wrong the day we dragged the Eskimo up in the net off Malin Head. I wasn’t long back from Alaska, and it seemed as if he must have followed me halfways around the world. My initial instinct was to pull his chewed up corpse free from the mountain of fish and to roll him overboard, to let him sink back into the depths of the ocean where he had first appeared from, to watch him slip beneath the waves as if he had never surfaced in the first place. Knucky even suggested as much.”
Jim has come home to the town of his birth on the coast of Donegal in Ireland after working in the canneries of Alaska. Like his friends Knucky and Frances he finds it difficult to escape the ties of the past. Then one day while out fishing he hauls the body of a dead Eskimo up in one of his nets. Jim’s ensuing obsession with tracing the corpse’s origins and discovering how the man died mirrors his search to comprehend the meaning and contours of his life in the tiny coastal town to which he has returned. Drink, loneliness and the price of survival become the major themes in this subtly shaded and superbly handled literary debut.
The Eskimo in the Net (Marion Boyars Publishers, May 2003) was shortlisted for The Kerry Group Irish Fiction Award 2004 and was selected as Book of the Year by The Daily Express Literary Editor:
By far the most memorable novel of the year for me was Gerard Beirne’s wonderful The Eskimo in the Net (Marion Boyars ). Nothing else I read in 2003 began with a better opening sentence. “Everything started to go wrong the day we dragged the Eskimo up in the net off Malin Head.” …Wonderful clear prose and sensitive observation in a tough environment make this an outstanding debut work, scandalously ignored by this year’s Man Booker judges.