BookBrowse Reviews The Colony by Audrey Magee

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The Colony

A Novel

by Audrey Magee

The Colony by Audrey Magee X
The Colony by Audrey Magee
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  • Published:
    May 2022, 384 pages

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Book Reviewed by:
Amanda Ellison
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Having based her debut novel in mainland Europe during World War II, Audrey Magee sets her follow-up, The Colony, closer to her own roots: an Irish island in the late 1970s, at the height of the Anglo-Irish Troubles.

The Colony opens with Mr Lloyd, a London artist, being transported to a Gaeltacht (Irish-speaking) island in a hand-rowed currach, eschewing the more convenient passenger ferry. This attempt at immersing himself in the local customs results in the regurgitation of his breakfast. A rather innocuous episode, it could nevertheless be read as symbolic of much larger issues that erupt when one culture gate-crashes another: exploitation, dilution of indigenous identity, conflict — all of which are examined by Magee in this discomfiting narrative.

Lloyd is traveling to the nameless island in search of solitude and inspiration; the painter's imagination is freighted with clichés of "raw, rugged, violent beauty," conveying all the innocence — ignorance? — of the outsider. The island's undesignated status in the novel may itself be significant: It implies stolen identity ...

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