John the Revelator
This is the story of John Devine — stuck in a small town in the eerie landscape of Southeast Ireland, worried over by his single, chain-smoking, bible-quoting mother, Lily, and spied on by the “neighbourly” Mrs. Nagle. When Jamey Corboy, a self-styled Rimbaudian boy wonder, arrives in town, John’s life suddenly seems full of possibility. His loneliness dissipates. He is taken up by mischief and discovery, hiding in the world beyond as Lily’s mysterious illness worsens.
But Jamey and John’s nose for trouble may be their undoing and soon John will be faced with a terrible moral dilemma. Joining the ranks of the great novels of friendship and betrayal — A Separate Peace, A Prayer for Owen Meany, Paddy Clarke Ha Ha Ha — John the Revelator grapples with the pull of the world and the hold of those we love. Suffused with family secrets, eerie imagery, black humour, and hypnotic prose, John the Revelator is a novel to fall in love with and an astounding debut.
“Full of things I can remember but can’t imagine, a stunning debut novel.” – James Dean Bradfield, Manic Street Preachers
“There’s a novel which there’s a lot of excitement about by Peter Murphy called John the Revelator. I’ve read it and it’s an absolutely wonderful book, I mean it’s a really wonderful book. And people say ‘oh, you know, Irish fiction is stale,’ well things can change overnight, and books like Peter Murphy’s can change things and be so fresh and so contemporary, so original and so disturbing and brave. I don’t know what else is coming out of the blue like that, and that’s the way it goes.” – Colm Toibin, The International Herald Tribune
“Everything about John the Revelator excited me—I couldn’t wait to turn the page and keep on going. It was like reading for the first time, almost as if I’d never read a novel before.” – Roddy Doyle, author of Paddy Clarke Ha Ha Ha
“Murphy’s writing is resolutely unsentimental, but so moving and powerful that the end had me weeping buckets.” – Kate Saunders, The Times (London)
Shall We Gather at the River
A small Irish town. A river in flood. The return of a prodigal son. On the banks of the river Rua, when the rains have stopped and the waters receded, nine bodies are found. What took them to the river?
Enoch O’Reilly, a self-made preacher and Elvis impersonator claiming to be just returned to Ireland from America, launches a radio show Revival Hour. It enjoys a short but spectacular run, and its disastrous end forces Enoch back to the family home. There he finds clues to a mythic connection between the dead—this brotherhood of the flood—the natural rhythms of the earth, a secret language called riverish, and his lost father. Conjuring together various traditions—gothic, Irish, Southern, musical, poetic, our deep connections to stories, to our homelands, and to nature—Peter Murphy establishes himself as one of Ireland’s literary wonders.
“This book is majestic and squalid at the same time, as if the Bible were actually about Elvis. The rhythms and music carry you like a baby on a raft on the river, but it’s the precision of the words that cinches you.”—Richard Hell, author of I Dreamed I Was a Very Clean Tramp
“A passionate dream of a book. Dazzling, but lucid—as though Flannery O’Connor had gone back to the Ireland of her forebears to write a novel.”—Peter Behrens, author of The Law of Dreams
“A wild and inventive butt-kicker, but also strangely tender, and the language is charged, vivid, luminous.”—Kevin Barry, author of City of Bohane
“For all its dark whimsy, Shall We Gather at the River is a deeply humane, funny, poetic and mortality-haunted book. It’s highly readable (a grave sin in some quarters) and highly thoughtful (a sin in others). It’s less an exploitation of the well-worn aesthetics of Revelations (after all the most emo as well as the most Bosch of the biblical texts) than a refutation of it. In a land where the holy ghost and damnation vie for attention with television and ego, Murphy masterfully conjures millenarianism, mythology, fraudulence and life-negation in small-town life. In these settings, the fear is not simply that the end of the world might occur but that it might not. And what strange, terrible, ludicrous lives we might lead, waiting to find out.” – Darran Anderson, The Stinging Fly