Based partly on true events, Paul Lynch’s haunting and sublime novel Beyond the Sea tells the story of two South American fishermen, Bolivar and Hector, who go to sea before a catastrophic storm. Needing cash, Bolivar convinces his boss to let him fish despite the weather. His fishing partner is nowhere to be found, so he brings Hector, a sullen and inexperienced teenager. The storm arrives, and though the two men survive, they’ve been blown hundreds of miles out in the Pacific Ocean with little hope for rescue.
Coming to terms with their new reality, they are forced to accept their separation from the modern world, their sudden and inescapable intimacy, and the possibilities and limits of faith, hope, and survival. As the days go by, they grapple with the mistakes of their pasts, the severity of their present, and the uncertainty of their future. And though Bolivar and Hector fight to maintain their will to live, nothing in the barren seascape or in their minds promises that they will make it.
Ambitious and profoundly moving, Beyond the Sea explores what it means to be a man, a friend, and a sinner in a fallen world. With evocative prose, Lynch crafts a suspenseful drama that refuses sentimentality or easy answers. Instead, Beyond the Sea is a hard-won and intimate rendering of the extremities of human life, both physical and mental.
"[This] stark, mesmerizing book reads like an existential argument between [life's] irreconcilable truths, a Beckett play bobbing in the open water . . . this fine book contains multitudes of experience."—Sam Sacks, The Wall Street Journal
"Lynch demonstrates a control over his ideas that comes from a pure lyrical telling, a speech act that, if you let it, will take you anywhere. Beyond the Sea is frightening but beautiful."—M. John Harrison, The Guardian
"[Bolivar and Hector] build a friendship that is artfully portrayed by Lynch, who resists the temptation to romanticize their connection, instead spotlighting its volatility, fractiousness and intensity . . . [Beyond the Sea] articulates Lynch's literary preoccupations striking clarity . . . its pages are alive with elegance and insight."—Oliver Eagleton, TLS
“A lucid, lyrical tale . . . Lynch’s spare and precise novel has a detached, almost mythical quality.”—The Irish Times
"[Lynch’s] novels are artistic creations . . . Lynch’s concern is not only the minutiae of survival or men battling the elements, although his account of these is exciting and persuasive. His main interest lies in the existential struggle within: how men handle themselves in extremis . . . His fourth novel has echoes of Melville, Dostoyevsky and William Golding."—The Sunday Times (London)
“Beyond the Sea sets us adrift in the unbounded ocean and stuns us with beautiful, fierce insights. After the familiar world has receded and the stories we tell ourselves have dissolved, we are left to confront our barest fears and self-accusations. Paul Lynch submerges us in the wildness of our own minds; I resurfaced changed.”—Chia-Chia Lin, author of The Unpassing
“Combining the sensibilities of a Joseph Conrad or a Cormac McCarthy with the poetic intensity of an Emily Dickinson, this rich, raw, and powerful seascape by Paul Lynch throws the sea’s storms and the sea’s light into the darkest corners of human consciousness. An astonishing achievement.”—Jane Urquhart, author of The Night Stages
“A powerful, heart-breaking story of friendship forged in the most extreme conditions. With its echoes of Greek myth, it yields up those small moments of grace that are deeply transformative.”—Mary Costello, author of Academy Street
It is not a dream of storm weather that follows Bolivar into the town, but words overheard last night, perhaps in Gabriela’s bar, that give him the feeling now of a dream. He thinks, it might have been the chatter of Alexis or José Luis – who...