The Boatman and Other Stories

The Boatman and Other Stories

Summary

The breathtaking short story collection from the Costa-shortlisted Irish writer

Three gunshots on the Irish border define the course of a young man's life; a writer clings fast to a star-crossed affair with a woman who has never been fully in his reach; a fisherman accustomed to hard labour rolls up his sleeves to dig a grave for his child; a pair of newly-weds embark on their first adventure, living wild on the deserted Beginish Island.

Spanning a century and two continents - from the muddy fields of Ireland to a hotel room in Paris, a dingy bar in Segovia to an aeroplane bound for Taipei - these densely layered tales reveal the quiet heroism and gentle dignity of ordinary life. Ranging from the elegiac to the brutally confrontational, Billy O'Callaghan's stories explore the resilience of the human heart and its ability to keep beating even in the wake of grief, trauma and lost love.

'The best fiction I have read this year... Taut, subtle and moving, and brought off beautifully' John Banville, Best Books of 2020, Irish Times

Reviews

  • The best fiction I have read this year is Billy O'Callaghan's short-story collection The Boatman. The book is old-fashioned in the best sense, in that it is written by a grown-up for grown-up persons, as Virginia Woolf said of Middlemarch. The stories are taut, subtle and moving, and brought off beautifully.
    John Banville, Irish Times *Best Books of 2020*

About the author

Billy O'Callaghan

Billy O'Callaghan is the author of the critically acclaimed novel My Coney Island Baby, which has been translated into nine languages and was shortlisted for the Encore Award 2020. Stories in his short-story collection The Boatman and Other Stories were shortlisted for the Costa Short Story Award and for Writie.ie Short Story of the Year in the An Post Irish Book Awards. He lives in Douglas, a village on the edge of Cork City.
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