Two days after the Winter Solstice in 2019 Kerri and her partner M moved to a small, remote railway cottage in the heart of Ireland. They were looking for a home, somewhere to stay put. What followed was a year of many changes. The pandemic arrived and their isolated home became a place of enforced isolation. It was to be a year unlike any we had seen before. But the seasons still turned, the swallows came at their allotted time, the rhythms of the natural world went on unchecked. For Kerri there was to be one more change, a longed-for but unhoped for change.
Cacophony of Bone maps the circle of a year – a journey from one place to another, field notes of a life – from one winter to the next. It is a telling of a changed life, in a changed world – and it is about all that does not change. All that which simply keeps on – living and breathing, nesting and dying – in spite of it all. When the pandemic came time seemed to shapeshift, so this is also a book about time. It is, too, a book about home, and what that can mean. Fragmentary in subject and form, fluid of language, this is an ode to a year, a place, and a love, that changed a life.
Kerri ni Dochartaigh's first book, Thin Places, was published in Spring 2021, for which she was awarded the Butler Literary Award 2022, and highly commended for the Wainwright Prize for Nature Writing 2021. Cacophony of Bone is her second book. She lives in the west of Ireland with her family.
"[A] generous, glowing book. ní Dochartaigh is on intimate terms with the natural world [...] [and] Cacophony of Bone is distinctly innovative in form. This attention to form is a considerable narrative achievement. It [...] persuades the reader to look, assess and imagine afresh"
– Irish Times
"Raw, visionary, lucid and mystical, Cacophony of Bone speaks of the connection between all things, and the magic that can be found in everyday life"
– Katherine May
"The delight of ní Dochartaigh's writing is her capacity to measure compassion against observation. Her wisdom is like water – too strong, and too elusive, to be hooked [...] This is the book's power – that it fills the needs of the person who stands before it [...] It is a book that creeps into the reader"
– Caught by the River
"This is a brilliant second book from a unique and deeply gifted writer who constantly renews our sense of the natural world and the landscape of the heart"
– Kevin Barry
"What joy, to find oneself once more in the world of Kerri Ní Dochartaigh, following her through the astonishments of her days, where each moment is deeply felt and each page is written with such nimble meticulousness. Cacophony of Bone is neat as a robin's nest, and just as wondrous"
– Doireann ní Ghríofa
"A strange and beautiful book – a collage of glittering images, moments, feelings, sensations. A selection of shining objects gathered on windowsill for safekeeping. A careful record of a fulcrum year, with all its joys and pains laid out on the page; Kerri ní Dochartaigh is a prose poet with keen eyes and a huge heart"
– Cal Flyn
"In Cacophony of Bone as in her previous work, Kerri has a deeply personal voice that feels as if it comes not from her, but from the earth beneath her"
– Marc Hamer
"I am a little in awe of Kerri ní Dochartaigh's work – the clarity and disinhibition of her storytelling; the wild freedom of her prose. Here is a brave and bold book, and one that deserves to be read, then read again"
– Helen Jukes
"Cacophony of Bone is a book that touched me deeply. It's so vital, so brimming with life and love, and ní Dochartaigh's singular, addictive lyricism"
– Lucy Jones
"Kerri ní Dochartaigh is something of a modern-day mystic, a writer of acute sensitivity and wonder. There is such beauty, such pain, such rawness in this diary of an extraordinary year – you read it feeling quickened, awakened – that you, too, are missing a layer of skin. It's a very special book indeed" – Lucy Caldwell