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The Rainbow Singer: A Novel

By Simon Kerr

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ISBN 10: 078688682X
288 pages

Written in an engaging lilt reminiscent of Roddy Doyle, this darkly comic first novel introduces America to the talents of a wonderfully original young writer.

The narrator of this harrowing and hilarious novel is Wil Carson, a former Protestant ex-thug from Northern Ireland. Wil’s adolescent hatred of Catholics is inherited from his bigoted father, but his sardonic twist on life as a “no-hoper from the Backstreets of East Belfast” is all his own. When the opportunity of a lifetime arises — a chance to travel to America as part of a church-sponsored peace project — Wil decides to swallow his prejudices and go along with the program. But his goodwill only goes so far, and a series of tragicomic events lands him in a Wisconsin penitentiary. Wil’s stint behind bars leaves him plenty of time to review his past deeds, ponder the choices he’s made, and reflect on a life of mixed blessings and curses. The Rainbow Singer offers a unique slant on Northern Ireland’s ethnic strife as well as an utterly original and distinct new voice in fiction.


“The struggle for peace in Northern Ireland — via Milwaukee — has never been presented like this before. It is . . . warm, tender, and full of yearning for the world to be right, where The Beast has been banished and the rainbow’s colours bathe the garden. This is the song Wil Carson sings and if its music is sad it is also uplifting. The Rainbow Singer is a fine debut — buy it.”  –Patrick McCabe, Author of The Butcher Boy

“Newcomer Kerr shows off his considerable talents.” —Kirkus Reviews

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Buy the Book

The Rainbow Singer: A Novel