Jamie O'Neill was brought up in Dun Laoghaire, Co Dublin. He spent ten years working as a night porter whilst writing AT SWIM, TWO BOYS. He lives in Galway, Ireland.
Published last year in Great Britain, this novel has been compared to works by James Joyce (or Flann O'Brien, whose At Swim-Two-Birds the title plays on), but it has more in common with the film Chariots of Fire in its painterly depiction of male athleticism and relationships. The sheltered son of a pro-British shopkeeper, 16-year-old Jim develops a doting and eventually homosexual relationship with Doyler, a bright boy from an impoverished family, as the two train for an ambitious swim across Dublin Bay on Easter 1916, a date that happens to coincide with a planned Republican uprising. Both become entangled with McMurrough, scion of wealthy Irish gentry, who is back in Dublin following imprisonment in England for indecent behavior. Jim is too nave and Doyler too politically sophisticated for their years, while McMurrough is typecast as an Oscar Wilde figure. Still, these are rich characterizations, and together with the playfully rendered Irish dialect they outweigh the book's imperfections. O'Neill also offers gorgeous descriptions of the Dublin environs and remarkable details of the period. Recommended for most fiction collections. Reba Leiding, James Madison Univ. Lib., Harrisonburg, VA Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.
'At Swim, Two Boys gets nearer to the truth of our
lives than most established writers dream of' * Independent
'Jamie O'Neill's masterpiece holds a special place in my heart for its bravery, its originality, its memorable characters and the dexterity of its language' -- John Boyne
'The music of Jamie O'Neill's prose creates a new Irish symphony' -- Peter Ackroyd
'O'Neill has stepped boldly and knowingly into the company of the Irish high modernists . . . At Swim, Two Boys is both footnote and foot forward, flexing its muscles within the Irish canon and breaking new emotional ground' * Guardian *
'A vivid picture of human freedom; of moving from fear of the world to acceptance of its fluid variety, while illuminating the nature of the imagination that makes it possible to do so' * Sunday Times *