Letters to Jude
by James Lawless
Unable to find emotional rapport with his wife, Lil, with whom he shares a childless marriage, middle-aged and ailing librarian Leo Lambkin begins a correspondence with an old flame, Bernarda, who writes to him after she hears of the tragic death of his mother.
Bernarda, whom Leo disguises as Jude, informs him that he is the father of her child, Uanito, begot some years previously by violent circumstances at the instigation of apparent burglars in the Chief Librarian’s Dublin home, where Bernarda had been working as an au pair. Overwrought at the time and fearing that Leo would not want a child conceived in such a manner, she kept him in the dark and returned to her native Spain. Leo feels for Uanito as he grows and delights in the boy’s sense of wonder at the world, which is related to him in alternating sad and hilarious accounts by Jude. He suffers however in not being able to share in his son’s development.
As dark wintry days give way to the increasing light and hope of summer, Leo and Jude long for an anticipated rendezvous. But what are the forces that stand in their way?
About the Author:
James Lawless is an award-winning Irish novelist, short story writer and poet who was born in the Liberties of Dublin. He is an arts graduate of University College Dublin and holds an MA in Communications from Dublin City University. He has broadcast his work on radio and writes book reviews for national newspapers. His awards include the Scintilla Welsh Open Poetry Competition, the WOW award, a Biscuit International Prize for short stories, the Cecil Day Lewis Award, a Hennessey award nomination for emerging fiction and an arts bursary award for a study of modern poetry. Two of his stories were also shortlisted for the Willesden and Bridport prizes and he was an award winner in the Colm Tóibín Short Story Awards (2020). His books have been translated into several languages.
His work has been commended by, among others, Jennifer Johnston (‘has a mighty thoughtful and penetrating capacity to make you gasp and rage and then burst out laughing’), Declan Kiberd (‘invents a new way of seeing the world’), Michael D Higgins, President of Ireland (‘His love for words and form is at all times discernible’), Carlo Gébler (‘gives deep literary pleasure’), the Hollywood actor and writer Gabriel Byrne (‘I highly recommend him’), Sunday Independent (‘Possessed of a lively, fleet-footed style that brims with intellect and poeticism, Lawless, an award- winning short story writer and poet, is an author who we should perhaps start taking more seriously’).
The author divides his time between County Kildare and West Cork, and you can read more about him at https://jameslawless.net
‘‘If every word was once a poem, then what happened? We think that we are using language while, like the ground beneath us, all the time language may be using us. In Letters to Jude, James Lawless takes us on a magical tour through the levels of language in all its glory and its slipperiness. He has at once a heightened sense of the promises of language and a deep, nagging doubt about the limits to communicability. Such is his intrepid sophistication, that he can even bring himself to doubt the very medium through which those doubts are expressed. A tour de force for the mind but also a chastening that words come from the body and return to it.’’ — Declan Kiberd
‘‘A rich Joycean novel with beautifully written passages of linguistic diversity and deep emotions full of insights.’’— Brandon Yen
Publication date: 29 June 2022
Format: Paperback 216mm x 138mm