Days Without End by Sebastian Barry (Faber, £17.99)
Sebastian Barry’s latest novel follows two soldiers in mid-19th-century America—the narrator, an Irishman named Thomas McNulty, and his lover John Cole—as they do battle, first against Native Americans, and later against Confederate soldiers in the Civil War. Along the way they adopt a Sioux orphan and put on a successful drag act. There is something life-affirming in Barry’s depictions of brutalised soldiers and burly miners enjoying burlesque cabaret—a glimmer, in extremis, of camaraderie and human tenderness.
Such respite is all too brief. When some of…
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