The Sunday Magazine

John Boyne

The Irish writer John Boyne is best-known for his Holocaust novel, The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas. His latest novel, A History of Loneliness, is his first set in his home country. It's a lacerating account of the trauma inflicted on Ireland by priests who sexually abused children, and by the Catholic Church's cover-up of those crimes.
Irish author John Boyne (Credit: AP/Miguel Tovar)

The Irish novelist John Boyne has always had a complicated, if not downright hostile, relationship to the Catholic Church. The priesthood, he says, blighted his youth. 

Growing up in Dublin, he was always closely acquainted with the power and tradition of the church. In fact the parish priest lived next door on one side of his family's home, and eight nuns lived on the other.

John Boyne has written more than a dozen novels, including the literary sensation, The Boy in the Striped Pajamas, which sold more than 6 million copies and was made into a film. 

He has never shied away from difficult subjects, whether the Holocaust or World War One. But only now has he chosen to write about a difficult subject very close to home. 

His latest novel, A History of Loneliness, is about priests, pedophiles and the secrets and betrayals that derail many lives.

It is also about two men, both priests, Odran Yates and Tom Cardle, and how little they actually know about each other, despite a forty-year friendship.  


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