Bohane, (Limerick) recently won the International IMPAC Dublin Literary Award. In the 80 Q and A sessions I have done with Irish writers many said that Kevin Barry was one of the very best contemporary short story writers. I have previously read and posted on two stories from this collection, "Fjord of Killary" and "Beer Trip to Llandudno", both of which I greatly enjoyed.
Many of these stories are very dark indeed. One of, it seems to me, characteristics of a lot of the Irish works I have read is that they dwell on the limitations our circumstances put on our hopes. With Bloomsday approaching fast, it seems the melancholy of The Dubliners casts a very long shadow over Irish writers. It may also instead be that the stories in The Dubliners are simply brilliant articulations of the national psyche.
Several of these stories present horrible events and terrible people. We meet two old ladies who snatch babies in one amazing story with as savage an ending as I have seen in a while. We see a mentally challenged person assaulted. There is a lot of drinking. Barry's prose is wonderful and his sense of place is very powerful.
I greatly enjoyed this collection. I must note with disappointment that some of the pages in this Vintage Press publication fell out as I was reading. Readers and Kevin Barry deserve better quality.
I will soon, I hope, read Barry's first collection of short stories, There are Little Kingdoms.