February 27, 2014 at 6:00 am

Patrick O’Keefe and The Visitors, April 4

Patrick O’Keefe will read from his new novel, The Visitors, hot off the Viking Penguin press, on Friday, April 4, at 7:30 p.m. in the Faculty Commons of Alden Library.

Patrick O'Keefe

Patrick O’Keefe

O’Keeffe was born in Ireland, but he has lived in the United States for more than 20 years. He is Assistant Professor of English at Ohio University.

The Visitors “weaves together the story of two neighboring families, the Dwyers and the Lyons, who are connected by love and loss,” writes reviewer Patricia Harty. “Narrated by James Dwyer, the story opens in Ann Arbor, MI, with a shabby stranger  appearing late one night at James’ door with a request from Kevin Lyons, James’ childhood nemesis, to visit him in New York. Though deeply suspicious of Kevin’s motives, James makes the trip, and during the visit, family secrets, which carry over from one generation to another, are revealed.

The Visitors“The language and pace of O’Keefe’s writing is what lifts the story above the commonplace. He deftly sets the scene and captures the idioms of Irish rural life: ‘My father sat in one of the back seats at Breen’s and ordered a small Powers and a half pint from the barmaid. He knew the barmaid’s father and grandfather. He knew the men sitting back there. Men the same go as him….’ Just as having grown up in Ireland lends an authenticity to O’Keefe’s writing, so too does the fact that he’s now an immigrant. He ably brings the story stateside with insights in what it’s like to be newly arrived in Boston and put down roots in America.”

Viking Penguin published his collection of long stories, The Hill Road, in 2005. The book was a Barnes and Noble Discovery selection, and it received the The Story Prize for 2005. O’Keeffe has also received a Whiting Award for fiction writing. His work has appeared in the Irish Times, Doubletake, and the Michigan Quartely Review.

The Visitors, published in March by Viking Penguin in the United States, also will be published in May by Bloomsbury  in the UK and Ireland. O’Keefe earned a B.A. in English at the University of Kentucky, Lexington, and an MFA in fiction writing at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor.

What Reviewers Say

“How well Patrick O’Keeffe knows the difficulties of leaving the past behind. I am full of admiration for his long view of history and family and the way he gradually reveals both in this wonderfully intelligent novel. The Visitors is a work of many pleasures.”—Margot Livesey

“In Patrick O’Keeffe’s The Visitors, the past is constantly catching up to, and overtaking, the present, and the result is a haunted and beautiful book that culminates in violence that’s both inevitable and surprising. A wonderful first novel.”—Charles Baxter

“The tangle of family life—the perils of escape, the perils of staying—is written into a novel of rare emotional authenticity. Ireland and America keep offering eye-opening surprises here, as The Visitors–unsentimental, unflinching, poignant in the most convincing way–shows how home and the past keep changing their meanings.”—Joan Silber

“Patrick O’Keeffe’s first novel is a masterful one, moving deftly back and forth in time and place while evoking rural Ireland through musical prose. But at its heart The Visitors is the tale of a haunted man named James Dwyer, who discovers that no matter how far across the ocean he travels, he remains forever bound by love and memory to home.”—Amy Greene

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