How to Build a Boat

Category: Book
By (author): Feeney, Elaine
Subject:  FICTION / Coming of Age
  FICTION / General
  FICTION / Literary
  FICTION / World Literature / Ireland / 21st Century
Audience: general/trade
Awards: The Booker Prize (2023) Long-listed
Publisher: Biblioasis
Published: November 2023
Format: Book-paperback
Pages: 304
Size: 8.50in x 5.30in
Our Price:
$ 24.95
In stock

Additional Notes

From The Publisher*

Longlisted for the 2023 Booker Prize • One of the Globe and Mail's "Sixty-Two Books to Read This Fall"

A funny and deeply moving novel about a boy, his dream, and the people who lend him a hand, by the acclaimed author of As You Were

Jamie O'Neill loves the colour red. He also loves tall trees, patterns, rain that comes with wind, the curvature of many objects, books with dust jackets, cats, rivers and Edgar Allan Poe. At age thirteen, there are two things he especially wants in life: to build a Perpetual Motion Machine, and to connect with his mother, Noelle, who died when he was born. In his mind these things are intimately linked. And at his new school, where all else is disorientating and overwhelming, he finds two people who might just be able to help him.

How to Build a Boat is the story of how one boy and his mission transforms the lives of his teachers, Tess and Tadhg, and brings together a community. Written with tenderness and verve, it's about love, family and connection, the power of imagination, and how our greatest adventures never happen alone.

Review Quote*

Praise for How to Build a Boat

"The interweaving stories of Jamie, a teenage boy trying to make sense of the world, and Tess, a teacher at his school, make up this humorous and insightful novel about family and the need for connection. Feeney has written an absorbing coming-of-age story which also explores the restrictions of class and education in a small community. A complex and genuinely moving novel."
-The Booker Prize 2023 judges

"Elaine Feeney's new novel, How to Build a Boat, concerns how families come into being, stay together and come apart."
-Times Literary Supplement

"One of those rare books that leaves you feeling less lonely. An uplifting tale of community, healing and the small connections that can change a life. A gorgeous gift of a novel, hopeful and full of humanity."
-Douglas Stuart, Booker Prize-winning author of Shuggie Bain

"In her second novel after her 2020 debut As You Were, Irish writer Elaine Feeney [...] creates real, fiercely believable people, the kind you will never want to forget. [...] It is a privilege to read such a novel, and it richly deserves its place on this year's Booker longlist. It is suffused with generosity, wisdom and understanding."
-Financial Times

"How to Build a Boat [...] is a heart-rending and delightful voyage in the company of 13-year-old Jamie O'Neill and his currach. The author Elaine Feeney has a poet's way with words and uncanny understanding of human frailty."
-The Guardian

"Feeney has a genius for showing us the anxieties of each character ... lovely, sensitive, intelligent."
-The Miramichi Reader

"[Feeney] has a beautiful, crystal-clear prose style that penetrates to the emotional core of her three main characters, whose hurts and desires are achingly rendered on the way to a quietly triumphant ending."
-Publishers Weekly

"The novel is an intensive probe of contemporary Irish society; the island's culture of shame and silence is picked apart [...] as is the continuing influence of the Catholic church. [...] Feeney has insights into boyhood and, more importantly, has written a great boy to help her tell them."
-Kirkus Reviews

"[Feeney's] impressionistic second novel follows a pupil and teacher as they navigate the social codes of rural Ireland."
-The Guardian

"Elaine Feeney's writing ... lights up with that brilliant combination of hilarity and tenderness."
-Electric Literature

"A beautiful meditation on love."
-Irish Times

"A beautifully-written, tenderhearted story."
-RTE Ireland

"Poignant, poetic."
-Irish Examiner

"Lyrical, compassionate ... the book sails to a tender and almost heartbreaking crescendo of hope forged through honesty and imagination."
-Daily Mail

"Feeney's debut novel As You Were won her legions of fans-Margaret Atwood, Douglas Stuart and Marian Keyes among them. Her second novel … will only win over more."
-I Newspaper

"Elaine Feeney's second novel is a beautifully told story that features a memorable cast of characters that ring true."
-Business Post Ireland

Praise for As You Were

"The novel reads almost like a humorous screen adaptation of an illness memoir, its gaze trained more on the lived experience inside a hospital than on looming death."
-New York Times

"A mighty, turbulent firestorm of a book, with a pulsing, rhythmic narrative voice. A compelling cast of characters with pitch perfect dialogue, it is tender, nuanced, forensically controlled and thrillingly unrestrained."
-2021 Dalkey Emerging Writer Award Jury

"I read this in one gulp! FunnySadCuttingBadHistoryElatingLyrical (new word). #Ireland #hospitals um what else?"
-Margaret Atwood on Twitter

"[A] brilliant debut … Never sentimental, and full of well-crafted dialogue and rich descriptions ... This powerful work perfectly balances tragedy and hope."
-Publishers Weekly (starred review)

"In a novel that paints a picture of modern Ireland that isn't by Sally Rooney, women in an oncology ward come to terms with secrets, illnesses, and how to deal with their families through text and emoji-speak and existential humor. Perfect for Sad Girl Fall."

Biographical Note

Elaine Feeney is a writer from the west of Ireland. Her 2020 debut novel, As You Were, was shortlisted for the Rathbones Folio Prize and the Irish Novel of the Year Award and won the Kate O'Brien Award, the McKitterick Prize, and the Dalkey Festival Emerging Writer Award. Feeney has published three collections of poetry including The Radio Was Gospel and Rise, and her short story "Sojourn" was included in The Art of The Glimpse: 100 Irish Short Stories, edited by Sinéad Gleeson. Her work appears widely in The Moth, The Paris Review, The Stinging Fly, Poetry Review, and elsewhere. Feeney lectures at the University of Galway.