Set in a frozen winter landscape, the new novel from the prize-winning, acclaimed author David Park is a psychologically astute, expertly crafted portrait of a father's inner life and a family in crisis
I am entering the frozen land, although to which country it belongs I cannot say.
The world is hushed, cloaked in snow. Transport has ground to a halt, flights cancelled and roads treacherous. Yet Tom must venture out into this transformed landscape to collect his son Luke, sick and stranded in his student lodgings. During this solitary journey from Belfast to Sunderland by car and boat, Tom reflects on his life: the beloved wife he leaves behind, labouring to create the perfect Christmas and mend their family's cracks with seasonal cheer; the son he is driving towards, yet struggles to connect with; the countless small disappointments of his photography career; and the absence that is always there as a voice in his head – his other son, Daniel.
In prose both lyrical and effortless, David Park vividly presents us with the inner life of a man grappling with existence's challenges: the memories that haunt us, the secrets that divide us, and the bonds that strengthen us. Meditating on marriage, masculinity, parenthood and ambition, this novel encapsulates, with its exquisitely nuanced, precisely delineated depiction of human experience, the unsolved mystery at the heart of our lives.
About the Author
David Park has written nine previous books including The Big Snow, Swallowing the Sun, The Truth Commissioner, The Light of Amsterdam, which was shortlisted for the 2014 International IMPAC Prize, and, most recently, The Poets' Wives, which was selected as Belfast's Choice for One City One Book 2014. He has won the Authors' Club First Novel Award, the Bass Ireland Arts Award for Literature, the Ewart-Biggs Memorial Prize, the American Ireland Fund Literary Award and the University of Ulster's McCrea Literary Award, three times. He has received a Major Individual Artist Award from the Arts Council of Northern Ireland and been shortlisted for the Irish Novel of the Year Award three times. In 2014 he was longlisted for the Sunday Times EFG Short Story Award. He lives in County Down, Northern Ireland.
Breathtaking ... A dark secret and a frozen journey through the fraught terrain of parenthood drive this brave, exhilarating novel ... Every sentence in Parks's book is felt. The author has weighed up each word and considered every image, electing only those that carry sufficient freight to bear the reader to his intended destination Park takes this emotional terrain of parenthood as both his setting and his subject, and creates something exhilaratingly brave and powerful from its jagged peaks and troughs -- Claire Kilroy * Guardian *
This lucidly written and deceptively simple narrative by the highly regarded Northern Irish novelist David Park
is the story of a troubled journey into the self and out into the world again, towards some glimmer of generosity and redemption * Sunday Times *
A tense, tense, thrilling, strange and profoundly moving study of parenthood. There isn't a wasted syllable in this short, beautiful book -- Donal Ryan * Irish Times *
Moving and eloquent - stays with you long after the final pages have melted away -- Donal O'Donoghue
Sombre, but unsolemn, with a redemptive, tingling finale, this is a small book bursting with big emotions -- Anthony Cummins * Daily Mail *
A deeply felt novel ... of personal tragedy and failure ... There is no false piety in this sometimes desperate, always measured novel, but a compassionately observed, manifestly flawed redemption * Irish Times *
It is time to call David Park what he is - a very great writer. Travelling In A Strange Land is an eruption of love and sorrow, overwhelmingly compassionate and wise, hearing the heart break and maybe even heal, bearing the deepest testimony to the love, unending love, binding parent and child. A mighty book -- Frank McGuinness
An extraordinary novel, at once startling and quietly brilliant. David Park is a one of Ireland's great novelists and this is, perhaps, his best -- Roddy Doyle
This is a father and son novel of rare intensity. We are taken on an unforgettable winter journey and, like in a skid, we have no idea which way we'll be facing by the end. He writes with a focus and precision which wrings the heart -- Bernard MacLaverty
I just loved the David Park. Everything about it. It's just a profound and beautifully sad work and if you want to know what great writing is, it's right there -- Niall MacMonagle
This, then, is the story of a lost child and a parent's guilt about decisions that seemed justifiable at the time but that merely led the way to irreversible tragedy, about the search for redemption ... Its concerns are firmly on one man and his search for meaning and solace * Irish Independent *
Extraordinary ... As raw and moving a chronicle of pain and powerlessness as could be written. Beautiful, too -- Lisa McInerney
David Park is now one of the best British novelists. He's perfected his art. His new book qualifies him as the Belfast Turgenev ... One of the truest observers of life ... he is even more compelling on his favourite subject, the delicate balance which ties, and taunts, fathers and sons. This touching story of a ruminating father's solitary journey to Scotland to bring home his sick son for Christmas is one of his best yet. It has all of Park's magic, melancholy and tenderness, and is, in more ways than one, an absolute dream * Big Issue *
Park appears to write effortlessly, with one foot planted firmly in the canon of traditional Irish lyricism and another flirting with modern parlance ... His emotional intelligence is remarkable * Daily Mail *
A writer's writer ... Park is to be commended for his great skill with language and emotion -- John Boyne
One of the shrewdest observers of the way we live now * Independent *
He is an astute storyteller whose vision is sustained by instinct, intelligent observation, and a sense of responsibility * Irish Times *