Immediately upon its publication in Ireland, Claire-Louise Bennett’s debut began to attract attention well beyond the expectations of the tiny Irish press that published it. A deceptively slender volume, it captures with utterly mesmerizing virtuosity the interior reality of its unnamed protagonist, a young woman living a singular and mostly solitary existence on the outskirts of a small coastal village. Sidestepping the usual conventions of narrative, it focuses on the details of her daily experience—from the best way to eat porridge or bananas to an encounter with cows—rendered sometimes in story-length, story-like stretches of narrative, sometimes in fragments no longer than a page, but always suffused with the hypersaturated, almost synesthetic intensity of the physical world that we remember from childhood. The effect is of character refracted and ventriloquized by environment, catching as it bounces her longings, frustrations, and disappointments—the ending of an affair, or the ambivalent beginning with a new lover. As the narrator’s persona emerges in all its eccentricity, sometimes painfully and often hilariously, we cannot help but see mirrored there our own fraught desires and limitations, and our own fugitive desire, despite everything, to be known.
Shimmering and unusual, Pond demands to be devoured in a single sitting that will linger long after the last page.
"What Bennett aims at is nothing short of a re-enchantment of the world. ... This is a truly stunning debut, beautifully written and profoundly witty." –The Guardian
“Elegant and funny and seems to find a whole new space in the form.” – Eimear McBride, TLS, “Books of the Year”
"Claire-Louise Bennett sets the conventions of literary fiction ablaze in this ferociously intelligent and funny debut. Don't be fooled by Pond's small size. It contains multitudes."—Jenny Offill, author of Department of Speculation
"As brilliant a debut and as distinct a voice as we've heard in years--this is a real writer with the real goods."--Kevin Barry, author of Beatlebone and City of Bohane