The Visitors (2014) by Patrick O’Keeffe is hot off the presses, published just this past week. In it the author recounts the story of two entwined Irish families from rural County Limerick, and follows the sons from Ireland to America. When James Dwyer receives a strange visitor who leads him from Ann Arbor to Upstate New York and the home of Kevin Lyons, secrets about their families in Ireland are revealed.
James and Kevin were neighbors growing up in their homeland. Kevin, who is several years older than James, had a relationship with James’ sister Tess. James fell in love with Kevin’s sister Una. The complications multiply, and the narrative takes the form of lyrical dialogue.
A review by Patricia Hagen appeared in the Minneapolis Star Tribune. An excerpt follows.
“The novel bounces back and forth in time and place between the present, in which James, his current girlfriend, and Walter perform their own complicated relationship dynamics, and the past: Episodes from the lives of parents and relatives are interwoven with memories of growing up in rural Ireland, tending bar in Dublin and moving to the States. Throughout, family secrets are like subterranean rivers, invisibly destabilizing the present as their currents bubble up in odd places: an inexplicable outburst in the kitchen, a chance remark by a neighbor, an uneasy sense that things were not what they seemed. As successive layers of secrets are revealed, the effect is powerful and moving.”