John Boyne and Alberto Marcos: an exquisite chat about The Heart’s Invisible Furies, homosexuality, and the author’s own evolution


The conversation took place one cold morning on Saturday 18th September. After a round of applauses for the writer that needs no introduction, the talk diverged to one of Boyne’s latest books, which centers around the life of an adopted Irish gay man, Cyril. Nevertheless, the differentiating factor of the work is the structure of seven-year intervals we see him in, all the way from his birth to his death in 2015, when gay marriage was legalised in Ireland. In Marcos’ words, the novel is ‘rich, ambitious and exceptionally well written” – but, what is the story behind it?

According to Boyne, “we shed our skin every seven years”. In a way, the novel goes through his own growth not only as a writer, but his childhood and youth in the times when homosexuality was still considered a crime in Ireland (surprisingly, until 1993). 

The author feels that the gay experience is a topic that should be covered more, especially since, for younger LGBT writers, the AIDS epidemic seem to have been a shameful time, and are treated without reverence in our collective memory.

Unlike his earlier works, The Heart’s Invisible Furies has an underlying and genius sense of humor, which Boyne explains is because of the way the novel naturally progressed in the early chapters: after all, it was the story of a boy learning about the world. He also recognises the influence of Voltaire’s Candide: regardless of being adopted, or being gay in a world where it was synonymous with crime, Cyril always remains an optimist. The author also explains that his main character not only struggles with acceptance from the external world, but with his own embracing.

Lastly, Boyne explains that he feels that, in spite of all the advances that have been made towards creating a more equal society regarding LGBT rights, there is still a civil war of sorts within the community, since there is a lack of reasonable dialogue; a you-do-you lifestyle that he himself urges us to change to further improve the conditions for the community.

You can get The Heart’s Invisible Furies by following the next link:


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