Colin O’Sullivan

Colin 2018Colin O’Sullivan lives in the north of Japan and works as an English teacher. He is the author of three novels, Killarney Blues, The Starved Lover Sings and The Dark Manual.  His short fiction and poetry have been published in various print and online anthologies and magazines.

His first novel, Killarney Blues, has won the prestigious Prix Mystère de la critique 2018 in France.

Author’s blog:



Winner of the Prix Mystère de la critique in France

Cover Killarney Blues by Colin O'SullivanPicturesque Killarney might seem the perfect place to enjoy the rare gift of sun but the town has got the blues. Bernard Dunphy, eccentric jarvey and guitarist, is pining for his unrequited love and has to contend with an ailing mother and an ailing horse.

His troubled friend Jack gets embroiled in a violent crime. A trio of girlfriends becomes entangled in the terrible webs of their own making. The novel fluctuates between darkness and light as the protagonists struggle with their inner demons.

Can friendship, love and music save their sinking souls?


“Colin O’Sullivan writes with a style and a swagger all his own. His voice – unique, strong, startlingly expressive – both comes from and adds to Ireland’s long and lovely literary lineage. Like many of that island’s sons and daughters, O’Sullivan sends language out on a gleeful spree, exuberant, defiant, ever-ready for a party. Only a soul of stone could resist joining in.” —Niall Griffiths

“His words swagger with purpose, never meandering too long on a scene, always moving the story forward, even when it goes back in time, like a faded photograph coming into view.  Lyrical to a point, one word flowing to the next, hardly stopping.” —

“The language of the characters is as musical and as enjoyable as the blues backdrop for the story”; “…a wonderful read from a terrific talent”;  “…a bittersweet story, infused with the blues and unrequited love”; “terrific insight, wonderful read”;  “shocking and moving”; “takes the reader deep into the hardships of life.” —Readers’ reviews

“Marvellous novel, endearing, moving, fascinating. I adored it. O’Sullivan is a real writing talent.”  —Jean-Paul Gratias, French translator

“Carried by a genuine writing talent, Killarney Blues is a Noir novel full of melancholy and unfulfilled dreams with a surprising glimmer of hope at the end. Without the slightest naivety. A revelation.”  —Le Soir (Belgium)

“A hard, poignant novel of great humanity… remarkably well written…”  —Rolling Stone (France)

Publisher: Betimes Books (2013). Rights held: World. Rights  sold: French (Rivages, 2017)


STARVED-REDUX2CHow much can one land take? How much can one man take? What if the rains kept coming? What if the huge waves kept crashing in? What if the plates kept shifting and volcanoes kept up their choking spew?

What if neighbouring nations became more antagonistic and the rest of the world began to forget you?

It’s the not-too-distant-future and a certain Asian country is in physical and moral tatters. What was once a polite society has become fouled and corrupted. Part-time referee and full-time P.E. teacher, Tombo, stands in the middle of all this, trying to find fairness and balance in his own life, as things continue to crumble around him.

Added to his personal miseries – missing-presumed-dead daughter, eerily silent wife, unrequited lusts – comes the unwanted, unwarranted attention of two, mean-spirited, wrathful adolescent girls, who have decided that he is to be their “chosen one”.

Can this harangued everyman battle against the forces that envelop him, or will he too fall to the whims of the new dystopia?

In this pulsing, provocative, visionary work, O’Sullivan couples his usual lyrical fervor with a philosophical acuity to present before us a trembling world that may not be too far away. Bold, risk-taking, wildly ambitious, formally daring, often a mix of the comic and macabre, it is marvelously inventive, full of wordplay and literary trickery. As well as being an absurd existential novel it is also a political satire, and a cautionary tale about what may lay ahead, therefore a novel very much for our times.


“Colin O’Sullivan’s writing is an antic, mordant and perverse plunge into strange and unnerving worlds.”   –Colin Barrett

Publisher: Betimes Books (2017). Rights held: World. Rights  sold: Russian (Arkadia Books, 2019)


DARKMANUALx2700Susie Sakamoto, an Irishwoman in Japan, spends her days drinking heavily and cursing the home robot that takes care of all her domestic needs. She despises the thing her dead husband designed and is under the impression that it is about to do her harm.

To escape the overwhelming grief of her missing family, she takes to the nighttime and the lawless section of the city, loitering in seedy bars with her wild, drug-fuelled, hypersexual friend, Mixxy.

Are Susie’s persecutions merely a result of her own paranoia? Can the parliament of owls gathering eerily in the trees outside be of any significance, any assistance?

Or will she have to search for the mythic Dark Manual, to find a way to finally switch off the homebot and end her litany of woes?

…it might already be too late…the machines are on the rise.

O’Sullivan couples his usual lyrical flourishes with tense and often terrifying noir-ish scenes, to present before us an unsettling vision of an anxious woman teetering in an anxious time.

Fans of Black Mirror, the dark humour of early Haruki Murakami, and even Asimov or Aldiss, will be keen to sample another frantic foray into a near and nervy future.

Publisher: Betimes Books (May 2018). Rights held: World