Simon & Schuster/TownHouse
Edmund Power's debut novel 'No Christian Grave' tells the story of Billy and Dasher, two teenage boys just about to go to college and begin a new life away from the small-town concerns of the fictional South Kilkenny village of Lisdrolin. However, on a fateful night when they hope to mark their journey into adulthood with another rite of passage – their first sexual encounter – a shocking, tragic event unfolds. Their 15-year-old neighbour, Suzy Deane, is murdered in front of their very eyes by her older boyfriend, Ginger Roger Doran, and thus begins a pact of silence that, if ever broken, would ruin their lives and shatter the small community forever.
In 'No Christian Grave' Power has created a wonderful sense of what it is like to live in a tiny village where everybody knows your business and has something to say on the matter. He brilliantly conveys the daily life of such a community from their passion for the game of hurling to the significance of attending the funeral of a local and his story, so amazing and incredible as it sounds, is real and convincing throughout as the reader is left to ponder what they would have done in such circumstances.
The most remarkable feature of Power's debut novel is the fact that it is completely dialogue-driven and, as such, provides us with an original and very different voice in Irish literature. There is little descriptive prose in the book as the voice of Billy relates the story in a matter-of-fact way, which holds true to his character, and it is conversation that drives the plot forward and provides the reader with the necessary detail. Although unusual as a style of novel writing, in this case it works and makes Edmund Power (who claims that this is the only way he can write) an author to watch.