Call Mother a Lonely Field
SHORTLISTED FOR THE RSL Ondaatje Prize 2013
the gentle particulars of life in Northern Ireland when all one saw from
"A tender, contemplative memoir..." – The Sunday Telegraph
"The touching description of his dying mother and then the loss of his father will draw a tear from the most hardened of readers." – We Love This Book
"...Carson's rediscovery of the Irish language following the death of his parents is truly moving." – The Irish World
Call Mother a Lonely Field mines the emotional archaeology of family, home and language, the author’s attempts to break their tethers, and the refuge he finds within them. Carson confronts the complex relationship between a son thinking in English, a father dreaming in Irish ‘in a room just off the reality I knew’, and a mother who, after raising five children through Irish, is no longer comfortable speaking it in the violent reality of 1970s Belfast.
The author’s Irish-speaking, West Belfast childhood is described through still-present echoes of the Second World War, dystopian science fiction, American comic books and punk rock. At the same time he explores how Irish language, literature and stories are transmitted from mouth to mouth. After years in London and Dublin, the deaths of his parents bring Liam Carson a new sense of community and understanding as he heals his fractured relationship with Irish. His rediscovery of the language as a sanctuary is central to a book exploring the potency of vanishing worlds, be they childhood, a city or a way of life.
“Call Mother a Lonely Field evokes a particular time and dramatic place, as it gets to grips with a society falling apart, all the time making a judicious distinction between archaic loyalties and civilized values. The last are embodied in the author’s father, whose ease of manner and personal integrity are set against the violence and disruption of the times… This short memoir by his son sets off more complex reverberations than its clarity and straightforward approach might suggest. It is written with a vivid economy and understated discernment.” – Patricia Craig, Times Literary Supplement
"Call Mother a Lonely Field is an immensely pleasurable book, and a valuable addition to the canon of Irish autobiography.” – The Irish Times
“Liam Carson has written the most moving memoir… a lyrical prose poem about being one of the first generation of Belfast children to be actually raised - reluctantly at times - with Irish.” – Pól Ó Muirí, IrishTimes.com