It’s Short Story Week for Reading Ireland Month – introduction and giveaway!

The short story has always been a staple of Irish literature. James Joyce, Elizabeth Bowen, Frank O’Connor, Sean O’Faolain, Maeve Brennan, William Trevor and Mary Lavin are just some of a long list of internationally recognised writers.
As the celebrated short story writer Frank O’Connor notes

A great story is not necessarily short at all, and the conception of the short story as a miniature art is inherently false. Basically, the difference between the short story and the novel is not one of length. It is a difference between pure and applied storytelling.

In the last five years, there have been a number of impressive anthologies celebrating Irish short story writers of the past and the rising stars of the future. Here are some of the best that have been published.

The Glass Shore and The Long Gaze Back, edited by Sinead Gleeson

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The importance and influence of these two collections cannot be stressed enough. Originally published to right the imbalance of inclusion of women writers in anthologies, The Glass Shore and The Long Gaze Back have brought long overlooked women writers back in to the spotlight.

I wrote a more in depth piece about both these groundbreaking collections last year and you can read it here.

Being Various: New Irish Short Stories, edited by Lucy Caldwell

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Following publication of her own brilliant short story collection Multitudes, Lucy Caldwell guest edited the sixth volume of Faber’s long running series of new Irish short stories last year, continuing the great work started by the late David Marcus and subsequent guest editors Kevin Barry, Deirdre Madden and Joseph O’Connor.

Eimear McBride, Kit de Waal and Sally Rooney are among the writers to feature in Being Various: New Irish Short Stories, which brings together new stories from Ireland’s current golden age of writing and features newly commissioned works from writers including Louise O’Neill, Paul McVeigh, Kevin Barry, Lisa McInerney and Arja Kajermo.

Of the collection, Lucy Caldwell says:

“Being Various has a brilliant array of writers making waves in the twenty-first century, from lauded names to newcomers ranging from their twenties to their sixties; Irish by birth, by parentage, or residence.”

The Other Irish Tradition, edited by Rob Doyle

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This collection focuses on new experimental writing from Ireland, which has experienced a real resurgence in the last decade. Featuring contributions from Solar Bones author Mike McCormack; June Caldwell’s legendary story Leitrim Flip; an excerpt from Anakana Schofield’s brilliant Martin Joseph and even a piece of new” writing even from the 1800s, with James Clarence Mangan’s 69 Drops of Laudanum, this is a really interesting collection of work that sits somewhat outside of the mainstream.

Still Worlds Turning: New Short Fiction, edited by Emma Warnock

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The exciting No Alibis Press published this anthology last year, featuring an introduction by June Caldwell. Still Worlds Turning gathers original stories from twenty celebrated and emerging writers from the UK, Ireland and beyond. This is not an anthology tied to one place, nor does it claim to be representative of a generation or define the contemporary moment. The aim of this book is to present new short fiction of the highest quality to fans of the genre and new readers alike.

Featuring stories from Jan Carson, Lucy Caldwell, Wendy Erskine and Sam Thompson, this is an eclectic and entertaining collection.
This week I will be focusing on short story collections from several Irish writers. Brian Friel, more widely known for his work as a playwright; Norah Hoult, whose reputation and work are experiencing a well-deserved renaissance and Oisin Fagan, who explores more subversive, speculative territory.


To celebrate the launch of Short Story Week, I am giving away a copy of Being Various: New Irish Short Stories which has been signed by editor Lucy Caldwell.

To enter, just comment below with your favourite short story writer (Irish or otherwise!) and I will draw a winner on Sunday. Good luck!

PicMonkey Image copy

Ireland Month Irish Literature

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I am a 40 something book buying addict trying to reduce the backlog one book at a time!

23 Comments Leave a comment

  1. i got so excited when i saw that youd dedicated a whole post to irish short stories–theres so many amazing collections out there, plus magazines like the amazing stinging fly!! right now i think my fav short story writer is julia armtield, whose collection Salt Slow i read last year and absolutely loved 💖

    cant wait to read being various!!

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  2. I already own Being Various so I won’t enter, but for favorite short story writer: it’s hard but I do need Colin Barrett to publish a new collection asap! I also need to get my hands on Still Worlds Turning. Excellent post as always!

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  3. I think my favourite Irish short story writer has to be William Trevor, with Maeve Brennan running a very close second. Both are so good on the dynamics of human relationships, the small yet significant actions that can be so meaningful.

    (PS As before, I’ll pass on the chance to enter your lovely giveaway, although I have to say it sounds very tempting!)

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  4. These all sound amazing, and that quote from Frank O’Connor is so interesting, its got me thinking. I promise I’m not being a creep here but honestly Joyce is my favourite short story writer – Dubliners is one of the greatest things I’ve ever read. In fact, it’s a mystery as to why I keep putting off Ulysses 😀

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  5. Having just reviewed some Edna O’Brien short stories, I would definitely be in the mood for more. I have never read William Trevor short stories and my huge volume of Elizabeth Bowen stories remains untouched. I would also love to read Mary Lavin short stories having so enjoyed her novel Mary O’Grady.

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  6. What a great selection of short stories! My favourite short story writers are Elizabeth Taylor and Dorothy Whipple – from that, I don’t think I’m the right person to win your prize, so please don’t enter me, but this is a lovely feature!

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