The Lilliput Press acquires Alice Lyons’s debut, Oona
The Lilliput Press will publish Alice Lyons’s ‘strikingly poetic’ debut novel, Oona, set between New Jersey and County Leitrim, and entirely written without the letter ‘o’.
Publisher Antony Farrell acquired world rights for Oona after meeting Lyons at the Irish Writers’ Centre Novel Fair earlier this year. Lilliput will publish in late March 2020 in paperback and ebook.
Publisher Antony Farrell says, ‘Set during the era of the Celtic Tiger and its aftermath, this is a resonant story conveyed in an innovative form. Written entirely without the letter “o”, the tone of the book reflects Oona’s inner damage and the destruction caused by hiding, omitting and obliterating parts of ourselves.’
‘Lyons’s first novel gives voice to a female character on her fraught journey into adulthood and charts her evolution as an artist,’ said Lilliput.
‘Oona, an artist-in-the-making, lives in an affluent suburban culture of first-generation immigrants in New Jersey where conspicuous consumption and white privilege prevail, and the denial of death is ubiquitous. The silence surrounding death extends to the family home where Oona is not told while her mother lies dying of cancer upstairs. Through the novel, Oona’s adolescent dissociation is thawed by contact with the physical world, the materials of painting and her engagement with Irish community, culture and landscape.’
Lyons said: ‘Oona is a study in a character’s search for realness after growing up in the unreality of post-war, white suburban America where money is all and both history and death are denied. I don’t know how I arrived at the decision not to use the letter “o”: one day it just happened and once I started, I knew I’d found Oona’s voice. It became thrilling to search for words I needed that didn’t contain “o”. I had to slow down and inspect every word, so the writing process brought me very close to language as a material, something to be savoured.’
Alice Lyons is a versatile artist and film-maker. She is a recipient of the Patrick Kavanagh Award for Poetry and the Ireland Chair of Poetry Bursary. Originally from the US, she has lived in the west of Ireland for twenty years. She was a Radcliffe Fellow in Poetry and New Media at Harvard University 2016/17. Throughout her career she has created work that brings literature into new contexts, media and communities. She currently lectures in creative writing at IT Sligo and is poet-in-residence with the Yeats Society, Sligo.
Lyons added: ‘It’s an honour to have my first novel Oona published by Lilliput Press, champions of so many deeply original authors who have made lasting contributions to literature and culture in Ireland and the world, among them Desmond Hogan, John Moriarity and Tim Robinson. In the end, it was Lilliput’s passion for my book and the care I knew that they take in the editorial and book-making process that convinced me to sign with them.