Paradise Road

By Stephen O'Donnell

Synopsis

Paradise Road is the story of Kevin McGarry a young man from the West of Scotland, who as a youngster was one of the most talented footballers of his generation in Scotland. Through a combination of injury and disillusionment, Kevin is forced to abandon any thoughts of playing the game he loves, professionally. Instead he settles for following his favourite team, Glasgow Celtic, as a spectator, while at the same time resignedly and with a characteristically wry Scottish sense of humour, trying to eke out a living as a joiner.

It is a story of hopes and dreams, idealism and disillusionment, of growth in the face of adversity and disappointment. Paradise Road examines some of the major themes affecting football today, such as the power and role of the media, standards in the Scottish game and the sectarianism which pervades not only football in Glasgow but also the wider community. More than simply a novel about football or football fandom, the book offers a portrait of the character and experiences of a section of the Irish Catholic community of the West of Scotland, and considers the role of young working-class men in our modern, post-industrial society.

The road Kevin travels towards self discovery, fulfilment and maturity leads him to Prague, enabling a more detached view of the Scotland that formed him and the Europe that beckons him.

Year of Publication

Review

Stephen O’Donnell’s novel tells the story of a promising young footballer, Kevin McGarry, whose dreams of stardom are dashed. Kevin becomes a supporter, following Celtic home and abroad with his friends. Paradise Road examines how someone copes with the loss of their dream, while it also reflects on the changing face of football over the past 30 years, in terms of clubs and players, and how that relationship with their supporters has changed. With the instincts of a predatory striker, Stephen O’Donnell spotted the lack of football fiction and pounced to produce a decent finish with Paradise Road. He’s also got another football novel in the pipeline, Scotball, which is due out in December 2014. - Paul Cuddihy