At the funeral, several priests remarked how appropriate it was that Father Conroy should have returned on his last day to Rosnagree, the parish in which he was born.
Father Tom Conroy – a spiky, difficult man – dies at a reunion of his seminary colleagues. As this masterly novel unfolds, we are taken through the years that formed this troublesome priest, who knew his life had been a failure. The Hungry Grass is a sharply witty and moving novel of a world on the cusp of change.
Head of Zeus, an Apollo Library book * Fiction
08 Sep 2016 * 304pp * £6.99 * 9781784977405
'The Apollo choices have been masterful. The list is thought-provoking, eye-opening, inspired and inspiring'
The Big Issue
'Truly masterful, as funny as it is profound and insightful … Published in 1969, the same year as James Plunkett's superb Dublin epic Strumpet City, The Hungry Grass is a far more sophisticated narrative, an Irish Stoner that has the pathos of John Williams's quiet American classic but also adds biting humour'
Eileen Battersby, The Irish Times
'The very best portrait of a priest in Irish fiction ... It is a chilling yet deeply compassionate study of a man whose growth is stunted both by choice and by circumstances. The environment is perfectly realised; the small clashes, the irritations, the sense of static life, the greed and ambition of small-town politics ... This is a very fine novel'
'tylistic and sharp ... What Powers has managed to do here in this quiet novel is create a character of depth and complexity ... The Hungry Grass is a find'
'Daring ... Beautifully written ... It is a masterpiece'
'An inspired reissuing of Power's superb novel, which was first published in 1969, reveals a writer with much in common with the great William Trevor ... Easily one of the finest Irish novels ever written – no tricks, just genius'
'This Apollo edition returns to print a neglected work of literary merit. The author's touch is light, finding humour amid the pathos'
'A heart-breaking aria for the unloved life ... The Hungry Grass offers a remarkable elegy for squandered opportunity and has lost none of its potency in the forty years since publication'
Richard Power was born in Waterford, south Ireland. He became a civil servant in Dublin, but at weekends and in the evenings wrote. He published his masterpiece, The Hungry Grass, in 1969. A year later he died suddenly at the age of 41.
Declan Kiberd is Ireland's greatest living critic, internationally celebrated for his work on literature and colonialism. He is the author of Inventing Ireland, Ulysses and Us and Irish Classics. He has won many literary prizes and is currently Professor of English at the University of Notre Dame in the USA.