Murray, Paul 1975–
Murray, Paul 1975–
PERSONAL: Born 1975. Education: Trinity College, Dublin, B.A.; University of East Anglia, M.A.
ADDRESSES: Home—Dublin, Ireland. Agent—Natasha Fairweather, A. P. Watt Ltd., 20 John St., London WC1N 2DR, England.
CAREER: Novelist. Has also worked as a bookseller.
AWARDS, HONORS: Whitbread Award shortlist for best first novel, 2003, for An Evening of Long Goodbyes.
An Evening of Long Goodbyes (novel), Hamish Hamilton (London, England), 2003, Random House (New York, NY), 2004.
SIDELIGHTS: Some years short of his thirtieth birthday, Irish writer Paul Murray published his first novel, An Evening of Long Goodbyes. A satire of the Irish economic boom as seen through the eyes of one who does not care to participate in it, the novel received significant attention in both Great Britain and America, including a shortlist citation for the prestigious Whitbread Award for a first novel. By turns humorous and tragic, An Evening of Long Goodbyes follows the changing fortunes of Charles Hythloday, a twenty-something hermit who is content to spend his days drinking and wandering alone in a decaying family mansion near Dublin. Charles feels no pressing need to assess his lifestyle or his decisions—in fact, he is actively dedicated to sprezatura, a Renaissance concept of living with genteel grace.
Charles's delicate world unravels around him as first his sister and then his mother force him to leave his beloved manse and seek employment. Cast into the slums of Dublin, he sees the underside of Ireland's "recovery" with its employment of illegal aliens, its drug addicts, and its ambitious entrepreneurs. Worse, Charles discovers that corporate interests threaten his family mansion, their predations fuelled by the complicity of his mother and sister.
Some American critics hailed Murray as a writer of great promise based on the tone and subject matter in An Evening of Long Goodbyes. A Kirkus Reviews contributor called the work "a deft, funny, and ultimately quite moving debut" that is "riotously funny from the start." Los Angeles Times reviewer Mark Rozzo deemed the novel "a stunning document of an English-speaking metropolis in flux," and concluded that Murray offers "a gleeful tweak of the New Ireland's proud nose." In the New York Times Book Review, Stephen Amidon noted that Murray "writes with the cunning and confidence of a seasoned pro…. Charles's lacerating, hilarious voice provides as effective a weapon against creeping globalism as any smoke bomb or human blockade." Christian Science Monitor correspondent Ron Charles wrote of Murray: "As a searing critic of contemporary life, a searching observer of sibling relations, and particularly a comic writer, he's at the beginning of a long, witty career."
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Booklist, June 1, 2004, Joanne Wilkinson, review of An Evening of Long Goodbyes, p. 1702.
Christian Science Monitor, August 3, 2004, Ron Charles, review of An Evening of Long Goodbyes, p. 15.
Kirkus Reviews, June 15, 2004, review of An Evening of Long Goodbyes, p. 555.
Los Angeles Times Book Review, October 31, 2004, Mark Rozzo, review of An Evening of Long Goodbyes, p. 10.
New York Times Book Review, September 5, 2004, Stephen Amidon, review of An Evening of Long Goodbyes, p. 6.
Publishers Weekly, June 28, 2004, review of An Evening of Long Goodbyes, p. 30.
Washington Post Book World, October 11, 2004, Nuala O'Faolain, review of An Evening of Long Goodbyes, p. 4.