Monday, October 31, 2005


Bestselling memoirist FRANK McCOURT returns with the concluding instalment of his bestselling memoir in the trilogy that started with the Pulitzer Prize-winning Angela’s Ashes (1996) and continued in ’Tis (1999) on November 15, 2005. Teacher Man (Fourth Estate, 2005) focuses on McCourt’s 30-year teaching career in New York City’s public-school system.

PHILIP ROTH will be coming out with a novel entitled Everyman (2006), a story of regret, loss and death, to be published by Houghton Mifflin in May 2006.

VIKRAM CHANDRA—whose novel, Red Earth and Pouring Rain (1995), and short-story collection, Love and Longing in Bombay (1997), were excellent reads—has written a new novel, a story of organised crime set in modern-day Bombay, India. The new as-yet-untitled novel will be published by HarperCollins in the fall of 2006.

CLARE MORRALL—whose first-published novel, Astonishing Splashes of Colour (2003), was shortlisted for the 2003 Booker Prize for Fiction—has a new novel as well. It is entitled Natural Flights of the Human Mind, but will only be released on January 16, 2006 under the Sceptre imprint. Her new novel is about a man who lives in a lighthouse, a study in social and emotional isolation.

On February 7, 2006, Scribner will be publishing MAILE MELOY’s second novel. It will called A Family Daughter. If you’ve enjoyed her novel, Liars and Saints (2003) (which was shortlisted for the 2005 Orange Prize for Fiction), and her story collection, Half in Love (2002), make sure you keep a lookout for her new novel.

Bloomsbury will be publishing ROMESH GUNESEKERA’s new novel, The Match, on March 6, 2006. You will most probably have enjoyed the Colombo-born novelist’s last two novels, Heaven’s Edge (2002) and The Sandglass (1998); a novella, Reef (1994), winner of the 1994 Yorkshire Post Award for Best First Work and shortlisted for the 1994 Booker Prize for Fiction and the 1994 Guardian Fiction Prize; as well as a collection of stories, Monkfish Moon (1992), which was shortlisted for the 1993 Commonwealth Writers Prize. Read what the acclaimed novelist has to say about why he writes: “The world being what it is, I write to redress the balance, at least in my own mind. I want to keep an inner life alive and, with luck, somebody else’s too. Imaginative writing, to me, is a way of discovering who we are, and what we have to contend with; discovering what is out there, and also what is not there. It enables me to think and explore and make something new with language, while trying to make sense of our lives.”

PETER RUSHFORTH, the author of such novels as Pinkertons Sister (2004) and Kindergarten (1979), died on September 25, 2005. His new novel, A Dead Language, will be published by Scribner on April 3, 2006. Kindergarten, his first novel, was the winner of the 1979 Hawthornden Prize for Imaginative Literature.

Sunday, October 30, 2005


JANE GARDAM is a brilliant writer of novels, short stories and books for children. Her narrative skills are excellent in a spare, unadornned and economical style and her characters engaging and riveting. She is definitely one of my favourite authors writing in the English language today.

GARDAM Jane [1928-] Novelist, short-story writer, children’s writer. Born Jean Mary Pearson in Coatham, North Yorkshire, England. NOVELS Old Filth (2004: shortlisted for the 2005 Orange Prize for Fiction); The Flight of the Maidens (2000); Faith Fox (1996); The Queen of the Tambourine (1991: winner of the 1991 Whitbread Novel Award); Crusoe’s Daughter (1985); God on the Rocks (1978: winner of the Prix Baudelaire in 1989 and shortlisted for the 1978 Booker Prize for Fiction) STORIES Missing the Midnight (1997); Going into a Dark House (1994: awarded the 1995 PEN/Macmillan Silver Pen Award); Showing the Flag and Other Stories (1989: winner of the 1989 Prix Baudelaire); The Pangs of Love and Other Stories (1983: winner of the 1984 Katherine Mansfield Award); The Sidmouth Letters (1978); Black Faces, White Faces (1975: winner of both the 1975 David Higham Prize for Fiction and the 1975 Winifred Holtby Memorial Prize) NONFICTION The Iron Coast (with photographs by Peter Burton and Harland Walshaw) (1994) CHILDREN’S Ink Monkey (1999); The Green Man (with illustrations by Mary Fedden) (1998); Tufty Bear (1996); Through the Doll’s House Door (1987); Swan (1986); Kit in Boots (1985); Kit (1984); Horse (1982); Bridget and William (1981); The Hollow Land (1981: winner of the 1981 Whitbread Children’s Novel Award); Bilgewater (1977); The Summer After the Funeral (1973); A Long Way from Verona (1971); A Few Fair Days (1971)

Saturday, October 29, 2005

A look at some notable but neglected books from the past

BOOKS nowadays do not remain on the shelves long enough for readers to discover them or for the books themselves to discover the readership they deserve because of the dynamics of the marketplace. Sadly, many of these books have disappeared, many almost without a trace. Perhaps changing literary tastes and the increasing reluctance of publishers to keep in print books that can never sell by the truckloads are responsible for this sad state of affairs. Some of these books should be rescued from obscurity for the enjoyment of a new generation of readers. These, I believe, are just some of the forgotten gems that literature buffs ought to discover or rediscover. Not discovering these underappreciated authors and their novels is indeed our greatest loss. There are, of course, more that should be revived.

The Death of the Heart (1938) / Elizabeth Bowen
Desperate Characters (1970) / Paula Fox
The House on Coliseum Street (1961) / Shirley Ann Grau
Living (1929) / Henry Green
Loving (1945) / Henry Green
The Girl on the Via Flaminia (1949) / Alfred Hayes
A High Wind in Jamaica (1929) / Richard Hughes
A New Life (1961) / Bernard Malamud
Appointment in Samarra (1934) /John O’Hara
The Girls of Slender Means (1963) / Muriel Spark
The Far Cry (1949) / Emma Smith
The Man Who Loved Children (1940) / Christina Stead
The Tenants of Moonbloom (1963) / Edward Lewis Wallant
All the King’s Men (1946) / Robert Penn Warren
Revolutionary Road (1961) / Richard Yates

Friday, October 28, 2005

Hilary MANTEL ... Beyond Black (2005)

HILARY MANTEL’s Booker Prize-longlisted Beyond Black (2005) is now out in paperback. Highly recommended for her originality, elegant prose and caustic wit. With this book, Mantel demonstrates her prowess as a great writer in the English language and her audacity to tackle realistic issues is admirable. There is much humour despite the darkness of the subject matter. Her memoir, Giving Up the Ghost (2003), is also excellent. Such good books deserve a wider readership.

MANTEL Hilary [1952-] Novelist, short-story writer, memoirist. Born Hilary Thompson in Glossop, Derbyshire, England. NOVELS Beyond Black (2005: longlisted for the 2005 Booker Prize for Fiction); The Giant, O’Brien (1998); An Experiment in Love (1995: winner of the 1996 Hawthornden Prize for Imaginative Literature); A Change of Climate (1994); A Place of Greater Safety (1992: winner of the 1992 Sunday Express Book of the Year Award); Fludd (1989: winner of the 1990 Winifred Holtby Memorial Prize, the 1990 Cheltenham Literary Festival Prize and the 1990 Southern Arts Literature Prize); Eight Months on Ghazzah Street (1988); Vacant Possession (1986); Every Day is Mother’s Day (1985) STORIES Learning to Talk (2003) MEMOIR Giving Up the Ghost (2003: shortlisted for the 2004 Duff Cooper Prize for Nonfiction)

Fiction: Beyond Black (2005); An Experiment in Love (1995); A Place of Greater Safety (1992); Eight Months on Ghazzah Street (1988)
Nonfiction: Giving Up the Ghost (2003)

Thursday, October 27, 2005

A modern reinterpretation of mythological tales

THE MAVERICK Scottish publishing house Canongate of Edinburgh has come up with a beautifully packaged series of contemporary retellings of classical myths from around the world. The first three volumes are by Karen Armstrong, Margaret Atwood and Jeanette Winterson. Other writers in Canongate’s The Myth Series include David Grossman, Victor Pelevin, Chinua Achebe, Milton Hatoum, Donna Tartt, A.S. Byatt, and more to follow.

A Short History of Myth (2005) / Karen Armstrong
The Penelopiad: The Myth of Penelope and Odysseus (2005) / Margaret Atwood
Weight: The Myth of Atlas and Heracles (2005) / Jeanette Winterson

Wednesday, October 26, 2005


1. Don’t know what you are going to say before you say it. Writing should always be a voyage of discovery.
2. Do not write chronologically. Pick the most important moments of your life and write them in detail.
3. Listen to your voice — the most important element in writing. If you can’t hear rather than see what you are writing, turn off the monitor on your computer as you write the first draft; on the first draft, learn to use a dictating program so you can speak to your computer, use a recording machine.
4. Do not worry about grammar, spelling, mechanics on the first draft. Once you discover what you have to say, it is time to edit your copy.
5. After you have a collection of significant incidents, keep rearranging them as you would small tiles to create a mosaic of meaning and beauty.
6. Each revision of these incidents will carry you deeper into the experience. You will see significance where you haven't before.
7. Be honest. When you write, you may find what you do not expect. Treasure the surprises.
8. Write with verbs and nouns. Do not weaken them with excess adverbs and adjectives.
9. Reveal the experience. Don't instruct the reader how to react, what to feel, what to think. You have given them a gift. It’s their business, not yours, how they respond.
10. Don’t show anyone any drafts until you complete a final draft. Each reader will want you to write his or her story, not your own.

Tuesday, October 25, 2005


James Agee

James Agee (1909-1955), who died in 1955 at the age of 45, was awarded the 1958 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction for his novel A Death in the Family (1957). Agee left the manuscript unfinished at the time of his death; the novel was published posthumously in 1957, two years after he died, and won the Pulitzer Prize in 1958.

AGEE James [1909-1955] Poet, novelist. Born James Rufus Agee in Knoxville, Tennessee. NOVELS A Death in the Family (1957: winner of the 1958 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction); The Morning Watch (1951) POETRY Collected Poems (ed. Robert Fitzgerald) (1968); Permit Me Voyage and Other Poems (1934) NONFICTION James Agee: Film Writing and Selected Journalism (ed. Michael Sragow) (2005); The Collected Short Prose of James Agee (ed. Robert Fitzgerald) (1968); Letters of James Agee to Father Flye (1962); Agee on Film (with drawings by Tomi Ungerer) (1958-60); Let Us Now Praise Famous Men: Three Tenant Families (with Walker Evans) (1941)

photographs by Bettmann/Corbis

Monday, October 24, 2005


Margaret Atwood’s The Tent (2006)

WATCH OUT for Margaret Atwood’s new collection of stories, The Tent (2006), due out from Nan A. Talese on January 10, 2006.

ATWOOD Margaret [1939-] Novelist, poet, critic. Born Margaret Eleanor Atwood in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada. NOVELS Oryx and Crake (2003: shortlisted for the 2003 Booker Prize for Fiction, the 2003 Governor General’s Award for Fiction, the 2003 Giller Prize for Fiction and the 2004 Orange Prize for Fiction); The Blind Assassin (2000: winner of the 2000 Booker Prize for Fiction and the Dashiell Hammett Prize); Alias Grace (1996: winner of the 1996 Giller Prize for Fiction, the Premio Mondello Award and an Award of Merit from Heritage Toronto; shortlisted for the 1996 Booker Prize for Fiction, the Orange Prize for Fiction, the Governor General’s Award for Fiction, the 1998 International IMPAC Dublin Literary Award, and the Arthur Ellis Award for Best Crime Novel); The Robber Bride (1993: co-winner of the 1993 Trillium Book Award for Fiction); Cat’s Eye (1988: shortlisted for the 1989 Booker Prize for Fiction); The Handmaid’s Tale (1985: winner of the Governor General’s Award for Fiction, the Los Angeles Times Best Fiction Award and the Arthur C. Clarke Award; a finalist for the 1986 Booker Prize for Fiction, the Ritz Paris Hemingway Award, and the Commonwealth Writers Prize); Bodily Harm (1981); Life Before Man (1979); Lady Oracle (1976); Surfacing (1972); The Edible Woman (1969) STORIES The Tent (2006); Bottle (2004); Good Bones and Simple Murders (2001); A Quiet Game and Other Early Works (edited by Kathy Chung and Sherrill Grace; illustrated by Kathy Chung (1997); Good Bones (1992); Wilderness Tips and Other Stories (1991: winner of the 1991 Trillium Book Award for Fiction); Bluebeard’s Egg and Other Stories (1983); Murder in the Dark: Short Fictions and Prose Poems (1983); Dancing Girls and Other Stories (1977) POETRY Eating Fire: Selected Poems, 1965-1995 (1998); Morning in the Burned House (1995: co-winner of the 1995 Trillium Book Award for Fiction); Margaret Atwood Poems 1965-1975 (1991); Selected Poems 1966-1984 (1990); Selected Poems II: Poems Selected and New 1976-1986 (1986); Interlunar (1984); Snake Poems (1983); True Stories (1981); Two-Headed Poems (1978); Selected Poems (1976); You Are Happy (1974); Power Politics (1971); Procedures for Underground (1970); The Journals of Susanna Moodie (1970); The Animals in That Country (1968); Speeches for Doctor Frankenstein (1966); Expeditions (1966); Talismans for Children (1965); Kaleidoscopes (1965); The Circle Game (1964; rev. 1966: winner of the 1966 Governor General’s Award for Poetry); Double Persephone (1961) CHILDREN’S Bashful Bob and Doleful Dorinda (2004); Rude Ramsay and the Roaring Radishes (2003); Princess Prunella and the Purple Peanut (1995); For the Birds (1990); Anna’s Pet (with Joyce Barkhouse) (1980); Up in the Tree (1978) NONFICTION The Penelopiad: The Myth of Penelope and Odysseus (2005); Curious Pursuits: Occasional Writing (published as Writing with Intent: Essays, Reviews, Personal Prose, 1983-2005 in the U.S.) (2005); Negotiating with the Dead: A Writer on Writing (2002); Solicitudes: Conversations (with Victor-Levy Beaulieu) (1998); Strange Things: The Malevolent North in Canadian Literature (1995); Second Words: Selected Critical Prose (1982); Days of the Rebels 1815-1840 (1977); Survival: A Thematic Guide to Canadian Literature (1972) EDITED The New Oxford Book of Canadian Short Stories in English (with Robert Weaver) (1995); The Best American Short Stories 1989 (with Shannon Ravenell) (1989); The Canlit Foodbook (1987); The New Oxford Book of Canadian Verse in English (1982); The Oxford Book of Canadian Short Stories in English (with Robert Weaver) (1986)

Fiction: The Blind Assassin (2000); Alias Grace (1996)
Nonfiction: Curious Pursuits: Occasional Writing (published in the U.S. as Writing with Intent: Essays, Reviews, Personal Prose, 1983-2005) (2005)

Sunday, October 23, 2005

Helen Simpson’s Constitutional (2005)

WATCH OUT for Helen Simpson’s new collection of stories, Constitutional (2005), due out from Jonathan Cape on December 29, 2005.

SIMPSON Helen [1959-] Short-story writer. Born in Bristol, England. STORIES Constitutional (2005); Hey Yeah Right Get a Life (published in the U.S. in 2001 as Getting a Life) (2000: winner of the 2001 Hawthornden Prize for Imaginative Literature); Dear George (1995); Four Bare Legs in a Bed and Other Stories (1990: winner of the 1991 Sunday Times Young Writer of the Year Award and a 1991 Somerset Maugham Award) NOVELLA Flesh and Grass (1990: appeared with Ruth Rendell’s The Strawberry Tree under the main title Unguarded Hours)

Saturday, October 22, 2005


WHAT Anita Shreve says about the writings of Shirley Hazzard: “I really admire Shirley Hazzard. Very convoluted, complex writing. Very difficult writing. I think she’s written the best novel in the English language: The Transit of Venus (1980). Her sentences contain whole universes.”

HAZZARD Shirley [1931-2016] Novelist, short-story writer. Born in Sydney, New South Wales, Australia. NOVELS The Great Fire (2003: winner of the 2003 National Book Award for Fiction and the 2004 Miles Franklin Award for Best Australian Novel; shortlisted for the 2004 Kiriyama Prize for Fiction and the 2004 Orange Prize for Fiction; longlisted for the 2004 Booker Prize for Fiction); The Transit of Venus (1980: winner of the 1980 National Book Critics Circle Award for Fiction; shortlisted for the 1980 National Book Award for Fiction); The Bay of Noon (1970: shortlisted for the 1970 National Book Award for Fiction); The Evening of the Holiday (1966) STORIES People in Glass Houses: Portraits from Organization Life (1967); Cliffs of Fall (1963) NONFICTION Countenance of Truth: The United Nations and the Waldheim Case (1990); Coming of Age in Australia (1985); Defeat of an Ideal: A Study of the Self-Destruction of the United Nations (1973) MEMOIR Greene on Capri: A Memoir (1999)

Thursday, October 20, 2005

TIME’s 100 BEST NOVELS (1923-2005)

TIME’s critics Richard Lacayo and Lev Grossman pick the 100 best English-language novels from 1923 to the present. An excellent list of books! However, I thought Kazuo Ishiguro’s The Remains of the Day (1989) is a much stronger novel than Never Let Me Go (2005). There are a couple of books which I thought would look at home on the list: Pat Conroy’s The Prince of Tides, Paula Fox’s Desperate Characters (1970); Shirley Ann Grau’s The House on Coliseum Street (1961), Henry Green’s Living (1929), Alfred Hayes’s The Girl on the Via Flaminia (1949), John Irving’s The World According to Garp and A Prayer for Owen Meaney, Bernard Malamud’s A New Life (1961) and Edward Lewis Wallant’s The Tenants of Moonbloom (1963).

Here’s their complete list:

The Adventures of Augie March / Saul Bellow
All the King’s Men / Robert Penn Warren
American Pastoral / Philip Roth
An American Tragedy / Theodore Dreiser
Animal Farm / George Orwell
Appointment in Samarra /John O’Hara
Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret / Judy Blume
The Assistant / Bernard Malamud
At Swim-Two-Birds / Flann O’Brien
Atonement / Ian McEwan

Beloved / Toni Morrison
The Berlin Stories / Christopher Isherwood
The Big Sleep / Raymond Chandler
The Blind Assassin / Margaret Atwood
Blood Meridian / Cormac McCarthy
Brideshead Revisited / Evelyn Waugh
The Bridge of San Luis Rey / Thornton Wilder

Call It Sleep / Henry Roth
Catch-22 / Joseph Heller
The Catcher in the Rye / J.D. Salinger
A Clockwork Orange / Anthony Burgess
The Confessions of Nat Turner / William Styron
The Corrections / Jonathan Franzen
The Crying of Lot 49 / Thomas Pynchon

A Dance to the Music of Time / Anthony Powell
The Day of the Locust / Nathanael West
Death Comes for the Archbishop / Willa Cather
A Death in the Family / James Agee
The Death of the Heart / Elizabeth Bowen
Deliverance / James Dickey
Dog Soldiers / Robert Stone

Falconer / John Cheever
The French Lieutenant’s Woman / John Fowles

The Golden Notebook / Doris Lessing
Go Tell it on the Mountain / James Baldwin
Gone With the Wind / Margaret Mitchell
The Grapes of Wrath / John Steinbeck
Gravity’s Rainbow / Thomas Pynchon
The Great Gatsby / F. Scott Fitzgerald

A Handful of Dust / Evelyn Waugh
The Heart is a Lonely Hunter / Carson McCullers
The Heart of the Matter / Graham Greene
Herzog / Saul Bellow
Housekeeping / Marilynne Robinson
A House for Mr. Biswas / V.S. Naipaul

I, Claudius / Robert Graves
Infinite Jest / David Foster Wallace
Invisible Man / Ralph Ellison

Light in August / William Faulkner
The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe / C.S. Lewis
Lolita / Vladimir Nabokov
Lord of the Flies / William Golding
The Lord of the Rings / J.R.R. Tolkien
Loving / Henry Green
Lucky Jim / Kingsley Amis

The Man Who Loved Children / Christina Stead
Midnight’s Children / Salman Rushdie
Money / Martin Amis
The Moviegoer / Walker Percy
Mrs. Dalloway / Virginia Woolf

Naked Lunch / William Burroughs
Native Son / Richard Wright
Neuromancer / William Gibson

Never Let Me Go / Kazuo Ishiguro
1984 / George Orwell

On the Road / Jack Kerouac
One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest / Ken Kesey

The Painted Bird / Jerzy Kosinski
Pale Fire / Vladimir Nabokov
A Passage to India / E.M. Forster
Play It As It Lays / Joan Didion
Portnoy’s Complaint / Philip Roth
Possession / A.S. Byatt
The Power and the Glory / Graham Greene
The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie / Muriel Spark

Rabbit, Run / John Updike
Ragtime / E.L. Doctorow
The Recognitions / William Gaddis
Red Harvest / Dashiell Hammett
Revolutionary Road / Richard Yates

The Sheltering Sky / Paul Bowles
Slaughterhouse-Five / Kurt Vonnegut
Snow Crash / Neal Stephenson

The Sot-Weed Factor / John Barth
The Sound and the Fury / William Faulkner
The Sportswriter / Richard Ford
The Spy Who Came in From the Cold / John le Carré
The Sun Also Rises / Ernest Hemingway
Their Eyes Were Watching God / Zora Neale Hurston
Things Fall Apart / Chinua Achebe
To Kill a Mockingbird / Harper Lee
To the Lighthouse / Virginia Woolf
Tropic of Cancer / Henry Miller

Ubik / Philip K. Dick
Under the Net / Iris Murdoch
Under the Volcano / Malcolm Lowry

Watchmen / Alan Moore & Dave Gibbons
White Noise / Don DeLillo
White Teeth / Zadie Smith
Wide Sargasso Sea / Jean Rhys

Wednesday, October 19, 2005

2005 Giller Prize for Fiction

The richest literary prize in Canadian fiction

THE GILLER PRIZE was founded in 1994 by Montreal real-estate businessman Jack Rabinovich as a tribute to his late wife Doris Giller. Giller, a prominent member of the Canadian literary community, was a reporter and editor at three major daily newspapers before her death in 1993. The prize goes to the best Canadian novel or short-story collection published each year in English.

The following books have been shortlisted for the 2005 Giller Prize for Fiction, Canada’s premier literary prize for fiction:

Luck / Joan Barfoot
The Time in Between / David Bergen
Sweetness in the Belly / Camilla Gibb
Alligator / Lisa Moore
A Wall of Light / Edeet Ravel

However, my money’s on David Bergen’s The Time in Between to take home the prize.

Alice Munro won the 2004 Giller Prize for Fiction for her short-story collection, Runaway (2004). She previously won the Giller Prize in 1998 for The Love of a Good Woman (1998).

The winner will be announced in Toronto on November 8, 2005

Past Winners
2006 Bloodletting and Miraculous Cures / Vincent Lam
2005 The Time in Between / David Bergen
2004 Runaway / Alice Munro
2003 The In-Between World of Vikram Lall / M.G. Vassanji
2002 The Polished Hoe / Austin Clarke
2001 Clara Callan / Richard Bruce Wright
2000 Anil’s Ghost / Michael Ondaatje
1999 A Good House / Bonnie Burnard
1998 The Love of a Good Woman / Alice Munro
1997 Barney’s Version / Mordecai Richler
1996 Alias Grace / Margaret Atwood
1995 A Fine Balance / Rohinton Mistry
1994 The Book of Secrets / M.G. Vassanji

Tuesday, October 18, 2005


Three Day Road / Joseph Boyden
Nellcott is My Darling / Golda Fried
Ladykiller / Charlotte Gill
A Perfect Night to Go to China / David Gilmour
Alphabet / Kathy Page

Processional / Anne Compton
The Burning Alphabet / Barry Dempster
Little Theatres / Erin Mouré
Underwood Log / W.H. New
Over the Roofs of the World / Olive Senior

Winners will be announced in Montreal on November 16, 2005

Monday, October 17, 2005

Thomas O’Malley’s In the Province of Saints (2005)
John McGaherns Memoir (2005)
Patrick O'Keeffes The Hill Road (2005)

Stories celebrating the rural Irish way of life

IF you are game for another bout of tales of sad Irish boyhoods of grinding poverty and destitution set against the Troubles of the 1970s, Thomas O’Malley’s In the Province of Saints (2005) is one heartbreaking read. In prose rich and poetic, O’Malley weaves the heartbreaking story of the slow disintegration of a family through a boy’s eyes. Read it and weep!

John McGahern is today one of Ireland’s finest writers of fiction. His books are always worth waiting for. His latest, Memoir (2005), is a childhood memoir, detailing his discovery of literature at a young age and his decision to become a writer. This is his first work of nonfiction (and possibly the best book he has ever written), and like his novels and short stories, his memoir is a grim meditation on Irish life in all its emotional intensity, written in lush and descriptive prose. One of the most moving moments in this memoir is the early death of his kind-hearted mother: “I remembered her in the world, walking those lanes to school. To Liscairn, to Beaghmore, to Aughawillan; on the train, in Maggie’s, going from shop to shop by her side in the town, watching with her the great fires of sticks in Aughawillan evenings, the flames leaping around the walls and ceilings. She was gone where I could not follow. I would never lay eyes again on her face.”

“I was nine the year winter came in spring, and Cait Delacey's mother, Mag of Slievecorragh, died; the winter had come and gone and surprised us with its return - sneaking furtively back to us like a fox during the night. The storm turned the sky black, the mercury plummeted, and everything beyond New Rowan froze. The snow fell so heavily and quickly it was like a hand wiping the land of every distinguishable feature. In the morning the fields were blanketed by soft-packed snow that sparkled all the way to town.

“No one was prepared for snow, most especially the distraught farmers. The sudden deep chill killed livestock as well as crops. In the morning the small frozen bodies of lambs lay shrouded in white all across the hillsides and fields; clusters of sheep, their fleece now suddenly and noticeably yellow against the backdrop of white, moved in and around them bleating softly. I stared from my bedroom window, disturbed but in awe of the storm's strange beauty.”
Thomas O'Malley, in In the Province of Saints (2005)

“The fields between the lakes are small, separated by thick hedges of whitethorn, ash, blackthorn, alder, sally, rowan, wild cherry, green oak, sycamore, and the lanes that link them under the Iron Mountains are narrow, often with high banks. The hedges are the glory of these small fields, especially when the hawthorn foams into streams of blossom each May and June. The sally is the first tree to green and the first to wither, and the rowan berries are an astonishing orange in the light from the lakes every September. These hedges are full of mice and insects and small birds, and sparrowhawks can be seen hunting all through the day. In their branches the wild woodbine and dog rose give off a deep fragrance in summer evenings, and on their banks grow the foxglove, the wild strawberry, primrose and fern and vetch among the crawling briars.” John McGahern, in Memoir (2005)

AN evocative début collection of four novella-length Irish stories on love and abandonment, death, unfulfilled yearnings, opportunities lost, greed and the difficulty of forgiveness, set against the timeless and beguiling rural Irish landscape, isolated in a cloistered world of its own. With much skill and dexterity and a lyrical prose style verging on the poetic, Ireland-born Patrick O'Keeffe captures not only the elements and nuances of the hauntingly beautiful Irish countryside but the ordinariness of lives that people this landscape as well. The Hill Road is both an accomplished début and a well-realised work of fiction.

He would walk in from work, enter the kitchen without a word, a deadened, distant and glassy look in his eyes, and his wife and son and the objects around him, such as doors or stairs, that she had spent all day polishing, were invisible, he, impervious to the four sturdy walls that held him, the woman and the boy who loved and wanted only to please him. Patrick OKeeffe, in The Hill Road (2005)

McGAHERN John [1934-] Novelist, short-story writer, playwright. Born in Dublin, Ireland. NOVELS That They May Face the Rising Sun (2001: published as By the Lake in the U.S. in 2002); Amongst Women (1990: winner of the 1990 Irish Times/Aer Lingus Literary Award; shortlisted for the 1990 Booker Prize for Fiction); The Pornographer (1979); The Leavetaking (1974); The Dark (1965); The Barracks (1963: winner of the 1962 A.E. Memorial Award and the 1964 Arts Council Macauley Fellowship) STORIES The Collected Stories (1992); High Ground (1985); Getting Through (1978); Nightlines (1970) PLAYS The Power of Darkness (1991); The Rockingham Shoot (1987); Swallows (1975); Sinclair (1971) MEMOIR Memoir (pub. in the U.S. in 2006 as All Will Be Well: A Memoir) (2005)

OKEEFFE Patrick [197X-] Short-story writer. Born in County Limerick, Ireland. STORIES The Hill Road (2005)

O’MALLEY Thomas [19XX-] Novelist. Born in the U.S. NOVEL In the Province of Saints (2005)