"Holohan's ability to write the kind of free-flowing naturalistic dialogue that so potently conveys the anarchic spirit of schoolboy warfare . . . is grounded by a shadow play of macabre references to horrors that ghost around the edges of the narrative, many eerily similar to some of the more infamous real life reports that have emerged in recent years."
--The Irish Times
Combining the spirit of Kingsley Amis's Lucky Jim
with a bawdy evisceration of hypocrisy in old-school Catholic education, The Brothers' Lot
is a comic satire that tells the story of the Brothers of Godly Coercion School for Young Boys of Meager Means, a dilapidated Dickensian institution run by an assemblage of eccentric, insane, and often nasty celibate Brothers. The school is in decline and the Brothers hunger for a miracle to move their founder, the Venerable Saorseach O'Rahilly, along the path to Sainthood.
When a possible miracle presents itself, the Brothers fervently seize on it with the help of the ethically pliant Diocesan Investigator, himself hungry for a miracle to boost his career. The school simultaneously comes under threat from strange outside forces. The harder the Brothers try to defend the school, the worse things seem to get. It takes an outsider, Finbar Sullivan, a young student newly arrived at the school, to see that the source of the threat may in fact lie inside the school itself. As the miracle unravels, the Brothers' efforts to preserve it unleash a disastrous chain of events.
Tackling a serious subject from the oblique viewpoint of satire, The Brothers' Lot
explores the culture that allowed abuses within church-run institutions in Ireland to go unchecked for decades.
"The mix of dire experiences that goes into the education dished out at the Brothers of Godly Coercion School for Young Boys of Meager Means adds up to a mordantly funny debut from Dublin native Holohan."
"Taking dead aim at the hypocrisy of the Catholic Church and the atmosphere of repression that allowed abuse to flourish, this first novel uses satire to stinging effect . . . Terribly bleak and terribly funny, this skillful debut pays tribute to the irrepressible spirit of all the rebellious young boys who would not give in to authoritarian rule."
"[Holohan] possesses his own distinct voice. Especially useful as therapy for recovering Catholics or to tweak apologists of the church, this impressive debut is highly recommended."
"A witty, brilliant, devastating expression of outrage. . . this novel is so subtly imagined, so elegantly structured, written in such hilarious prose but with such horrifying details, that what it offers is an overpowering, visionary judgement of a society."
--Times Literary Supplement
"The book is funny, fast-paced with one crisis after another, but always pulls at the heartstrings."