This Is The Way by Gavin Corbett
(Fourth Estate, 2013)

This Is The Way

by Gavin Corbett

From Ireland comes a startlingly original voice.

They was fish says my mother. The Sonaghans and the Gillaroos all was once fish. And you heard of this place Melvin where the families is from. All that’s there now is a pond but it was all once a lake where the Sonaghan fish and the Gillaroo fish did live.’

Anthony is a traveller, the son of a Sonaghan father and Gillaroo mother. The feuding families’ enmity is a matter of legend, but Anthony has grown up away from his people and is only dimly aware of their rivalry. That is until the blood feud touches him, and he comes to Dublin to lie low.

Here he meets Judith, who shows more interest in his life than anyone before and encourages him to record his stories. But then his uncle Arthur turns up at his doorstep - injured, delirious and apparently on the run, threatening to bring the past and its troubles with him,

In a sustained feat of invention, Gavin Corbett has fashioned an idiom - vivid but innocent - with which to speak for Anthony and his tradition.

This is Anthony’s story. But by diffusion it is the story of an entire cultural encounter between and ancient world and our modern age.


  • 2013 Kerry Group Irish Novel of the Year (winner)


Imagine Romeo and Juliet if Romeo had made peace between the Montagues and Capulets by the strength of his fists, married Juliet, become a wife-beater, found religion, and left his son and his brother facing the consequences of a revival of the inter-family war. Then imagine that the master of the stage is not Shakespeare but a writer with the rigorous introspection of James Kelman, mediated by the compassion of Raymond Carver and the visceral imagination of Alan Warner. Yes, and a hearty measure of Flann O'Brien besides. But the hell with the antecedents: the man is an original, with a bridge to the world of first things he's fashioned for himself.”
- James Meek
Every now and then a voice comes along to reinvigorate the language and the way we 'music' our world. Gavin Corbett's 'This is the Way' is one of those books. He puts me in mind of Jon McGregor, Patrick McCabe, Russell Hoban: honest, funny, brave, unsentimental. A voice to savour, and watch out for. ”
- Colum McCann
A troubling, mysterious, demanding and beautiful book, narrated in a voice unlike any I have encountered in fiction. Corbett knows what he's doing: every sentence throbs with power.”
- Emma Donoghue
The triumph is in the telling. Anthony’s voice, once heard, is hard to forget; its rhythms, its repetitions, its sly humour – all strike the reader as genuinely original. Its a timely reminder that while fiction may not change things in the real world, it does offer us new ways to dream. ”
- The Irish Times
A wonderful new voice.”
- Joseph O'Neill
In This Is The Way, Gavin Corbett plays a dangerous game, but he plays it very well indeed, venturing into the territory of the unsayable with nods to Beckett and Flann O'Brien on the way, but all in his own compelling style.”
- John Burnside
In Gavin Corbett’s novel voice is all, and what a voice it is, poignant, dispossessed, at odds with a bewildering and furious world. With its deadpan humour and its oblique, surreal poetry – echoes, at times, of Flann O’Brien and Dermot Healy – it is exceptionally assured. ”
- Rupert Thomson, author of The Book of Revelation
This Is The Way is both a topical and timeless story of identity, rivalry and survival. Through a brilliantly imagined narrator consumed by his family history, Corbett’s becomes a refreshing and relevant literary voice. ”
- Telegraph
A sly and lovely humour dominates. Anthony and Arthur visit Judith's Sunday salon and its holier-than-thou intellectuals are beautifully skewered; the streets of contemporary Dublin, somehow both drab and gaudy, are sketched with great relish and skill.”
- The Guardian
This is memorable work from a gifted writer whose next moves we should await with very keen interest.”
- The Guardian