Short Story Week begins today. The Irish are the acknowledged masters of this form. This year, sponsored by Writing.ie, there are six finalists for Irish Short Story of The Year. All can thankfully be read for free online. Two of the six writers have graciously done Q and A sessions on The Reading Life, Danielle McClaughlin and Billy O'Callaghan. I am looking forward to first for me readings of the other four writers.
Writing.ie Short Story of the Year Award Shortlist Revealed
BAIT by COLIN BARRETT (From Young Skins – Stinging Fly Press)
SOFT RAIN by TRISHA MCKINNEY (RTE GUIDE)
A DIFFERENT COUNTRY by DANIELLE MCLAUGHLIN (From Issue 23 Volume Two – Winter 2013 The Stinging Fly)
HOW I BEAT THE DEVIL by PAUL MURRAY (From Town and Country: New Irish Short Stories – Faber & Faber)
THE THINGS WE LOSE, THE THINGS WE LEAVE BEHIND by BILLY O’CALLAGHAN (From The Things We Lose, The Things We Leave Behind – New Island)
THE DAY THINGS CHANGED by NIAMH O’CONNOR (From If I Was A Child Again – Poolbeg Press)
Read the individual entries here and click to go to the Irish Book Awards website to vote for your favourite!
Colin received bursaries from the Arts Council in 2011 and 2013. This is his first collection of stories.
Colin has been shortlisted for two prizes at the 2013 BGE Irish Book Awards — the The Sunday Independent Newcomer of the Year and the Writing.ie Short Story of the Year for 'Bait', which appears in Young Skins. Prizes are awarded by public vote, and voting ends at midnight on November 21st.
'a stunning debut… all seven tales converge towards one singular theme: the failure constantly lurking in the shadows of the human condition. The timeless nature of each story means this collection can – and will – be read many years from now.’
JP O'Malley, The Sunday Times
It isn’t necessarily the job of fiction writers to explain our social landscape, but sometimes the best of them do. Colin Barrett’s short, brutal collection of stories presents clearly and without sentimentality a picture of the young Irish small-town male, in his current crisis of hopelessness and alienation.
Katy Hayes, The Irish Times
These stories, exploring male friendship and often unrequited love convey the atmosphere of post-boom Ireland quite wonderfully. With little lucrative employment, the protagonists struggle on as best they can, seeing no way out…
I loved these stories, and empathised with every one of the protagonists. I like the way they challenge the readers’ prejudices and leave them wanting more. The writing is superlative. Every sentence counts. We’ll be hearing a lot more from Colin Barrett.
Sue Leonard, Books Ireland
Colin Barrett’s story collection, seven tales set in the grim surrounds of a fictional Mayo town, is a truly accomplished debut. The stories are no comforting pastoral—instead, we meet a cast of young men and women trapped in a variety of hopeless situations, some turbulent and messy, others of the quiet-desperation variety. In ‘Diamonds’, a recovering alcoholic takes up a job as grounds-keeper in his old school until he falls off the wagon; in a couple of stories, outsiders visit for a period—such as the students marking time in a summer job in both ‘The Moon’ and the excellent ‘Stand Your Skin’—only to clear out again, leaving those they were involved with ever more conscious of the limits of their world. There’s quite an overlap in tone with Kevin Barry, but Barrett is no pale imitator. His writing is confident and gritty—and every now and then he hits the reader with such a perfect turn of phrase it underscores a serious talent. Don’t bank on being uplifted by these gnarly portraits of rural Irish life, but do expect to be very impressed by the power of Barrett’s writing.