The First Day
By Phil Harrison
An intense, questioning novel about marriage, love, family and religion.
Outside an east Belfast mission hall, pastor and family man Samuel Orr meets Anna, a young Beckett scholar. They embark on an intense love affair, their connection fuelled by their respective passions. When Anna falls pregnant, the affair is revealed. The repercussions are slow to emerge but inescapable, and the fallout is shocking, cruel and violent.
More than thirty years later Sam, their son, is in New York, living a steady, guarded life, his childhood and family safely abandoned.
But the sins of the fathers are not to be so easily buried; the past crashes inevitably into the present, and Sam is forced to confront the fears he has kept close for decades.
Phil Harrison's first feature film, The Good Man, was released in 2014. His earlier short, Even Gods, won the short film award at the Belfast, Galway and Cork Film Festivals in 2011, and was shortlisted for the best short script at the 2012 Irish Screenwriting Awards. He lives in Belfast. The First Day is his debut novel.
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- Publication date:
15 Jun 2017
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Terrific, it is expanding and expanding all the time, like its own model universe - I just think it is pretty marvellous — Sebastian Barry
Set in a defamiliarised Belfast, The First Day is an auspicious debut - crisp, spare, lean and compelling — Patrick McCabe, author of The Butcher Boy
The First Day is an age-old story of forbidden love, given fresh resonance against the backdrop of the fractured, changing but still deeply conservative society that is contemporary Northern Ireland.
Phil Harrison writes with compassion and tenderness, never veering into sentimentality, about his young Beckett scholar and the married pastor she falls in love with. He has a screenwriter's ear for the way people talk, the cadences and omissions of their speech, and in particular the speech of religious Ulster, still rooted so deeply in the language and rhythms of the King James Bible. He illuminates a people - a place - seeking to escape from itself, seeking transfiguration, but desperately bound to what has gone before
— Lucy Caldwell
In true Belfast style, Phil Harrison has planted a flag. The First Day is not just a novel, it's a declaration, full worthy of salute — Glenn Patterson
Written with a burning intensity, this is a powerful novel about marriage, passion, anger and guilt. — Fanny Blake, Daily Mail
Hugely impressive. A finely written tale which is original, compulsive, and at times chilling — Sue Leonard, Irish Examiner