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10 Short Story Collections to Remind You How Great Short Stories Can Be

This week, we are celebrating the glory of the short story with a list of ten Irish collections that will remind you just how great they can be. Join us as we invite you to re-read some of your favourites, and discover some new collections too.

Modern Times by Cathy Sweeney (Stinging Fly)

There is perhaps no better time to read Cathy Sweeney’s Modern Times as now: the current world we inhabit is doused in strangeness, and so is this marvellous collection. But it is also funny and profound when it needs to be, the stories together offering a skewed and fascinating look at reality.

The Gospel According to Blindboy by Blindboy Boatclub (Gill Books)

In this collection, Ireland’s favourite hot-taker and one half of the Rubberbandits, Blindboy Boatclub, delivers a surreal assortment of stories marked by their absurdity, hilarity, and undeniable lyrical prose. It is a trip, and a very worthwhile one at that.

I Want to Know That I Will Be Okay by Deirdre Sullivan (Banshee Press)

Previously featured in our Anticipated Releases blog post, Deirdre Sullivan’s forthcoming collection is sure to instill a sense of wonder at the short story as she uses the form to honour and examine the power of women’s bodies. Watch out for this one in May.

Show Them a Good Time by Nicole Flattery (Stinging Fly)

Combining the recognisable with the intensely uncanny, Show Them a Good Time is a collection charting the condition of the modern Irish woman. Published by The Stinging Fly, Flattery’s incisive stories are funny and dark in equal parts, and succeed in excavating the strangeness at the heart of capitalistic living.

This Hostel Life by Melatu Uche Okorie (Skein Press)

Consisting of three short stories and two essays, this collection delivers in content what it lacks in length. Okorie’s skilled prose explores issues of identity and immigration, with two of these stories exposing the experience of Nigerian migrant women in Ireland, and the third story uncovering the toll of ancient superstitions on the life of a woman in Nigeria.

Pure Gold by John Patrick McHugh (New Island)

Arriving next week, John Patrick McHugh’s debut collection reminds us all of the potential of short stories: tension and unease permeate these stories of small town lives confronting all-too-human impulses. Look out for our full review coming next week.

A Slanting of the Sun by Donal Ryan (The Lilliput Press and Steerforth)

Originally published by The Lilliput Press, Donal Ryan’s 2015 collection of short stories confirm his ability to seek out the humanity in his characters as they themselves grapple with the realities of being human. He proves with this collection that his precise rendering of Irish lives is not exclusive to his novels.

Why the moon travels by Oein DeBhairduin (Skein Press)

This beautiful collection of twenty folktale retellings rooted in the oral Traveller tradition was compiled and written by Oein DeBhairduin and published in 2020 by Skein Press. It is a gentle and insightful celebration of Mincéir culture that is a welcome addition to the Irish literary canon.

Forensic Songs by Mike McCormack (The Lilliput Press)

In McCormack’s second collection of stories, Forensic Songs, the author blends sometimes surreal premises with real preoccupations and emotions in his exacting style. Indeed, if you can’t get enough of McCormack’s stories, his debut collection Getting It in the Head is just as worthy of your time.

Intimacies by Lucy Caldwell (Faber & Faber)

Intimacies is the upcoming collection from Lucy Caldwell. It charts the adventures of young women as they muddle their way through this hyper-digital world. Intimacies is the study of digital communication, modern relationships and motherhood that we’ve all been waiting for. The collection will be published in April 2021 and is available for pre-order from The Gutter Bookshop. (P.S. The Stinging Fly published a story from the collection over on their website. Head on over for a sneak preview of the collection).