Saturday 29 May 2021

#BlogTour Diving for Pearls by Jamie O'Connell

 It's my turn on the BlogTour Diving for Pearls by Jamie O'Connell.

About the Author

Jamie O'Connell has had short stories highly commended by the Costa Short Story Award and the Irish Book Award Short Story of the Year. He has been longlisted for BBC Radio 4 Opening Lines Short Story Competition and shortlisted for the Maeve Binchy Travel Award and the Sky Arts Futures Fund. He has an MFA and MA in Creative Writing from University College Dublin. He has worked for Penguin Random House, Gill Books and O'Brien Press. Diving for Pearls is his first novel. Follow @jamieoconnell on Twitter, Visit

About the book

A young woman’s body floats in the Dubai marina. Her death alters the fates of six people, each one striving for a better life in an unforgiving city…

A young Irish man comes to stay with his sister, keen to erase his troubled past in the heat of the Dubai sun. A Russian sex worker has outsmarted the system so far – but will her luck run out? A Pakistani taxi driver dreams of a future for his daughters. An Emirate man hides the truth about who he really is. An Ethiopian maid tries to carve out a path of her own. From every corner of the globe, Dubai has made promises to them all. Promises of gilded opportunities and bright new horizons, the chance to forget the past and protect long-held secrets. 

But Dubai breaks its promises, with deadly consequences. In a city of mirages, how do you find your way out?O’Connell expertly weaves a delicate web of intertwining stories, combining dark wit, and devastating emotional truth as fates collide and lives are shattered.


What Diving for Pearls most definitely isn't is a crime novel. It's a contemporary read, a bit like a fractured tandem plot - equally weighted stories constructed around a slip of a narrative. The actual catalyst event, which is the death of the young local girl, becomes entirely inconsequential to all the surrounding stories and yet is the reason for all of them. 

Without Hiyam there is no story or connecting thread, and yet she is the least important aspect of the read. I have to admit letting go of the not knowing was a bit of a task, but then I also think that was the point. The lack of closure is synonymous with the lack of power, voice and control all of the characters have in common in relation to where they are and who they are.

A symbol of cultures dividing and simultaneously the acknowledgement that the East will not bend and the West must be submissive to their rules with the West and others bending until breaking point. I often wonder about the Westerners who like to play loose and fast at their own peril overseas - diving for those pearls, they are pandered to until it no longer suits the narrative. 

This is also evident in the stories of Lydia, Siobhan and Aasim. All three of them recognise the danger of being an outsider and being trapped in the claws of a regime that appears to be the picture of opulence, modern society and the face of the future. The truth is its the dark ages hidden behind a layer of gold, diamonds and a fantastical mirage.

It's literary fiction, a snake devouring its own tail, a beginning without an end.

Buy Diving for Pearls at Amazon Uk or go to Goodreads for any other retailer. Publisher: Doubleday Uk; pub date 3rd June 2021 | Trade Paperback | £13.99. Buy at Waterstones.

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