“I know of no writer on either side of the Atlantic who is better at exploring the human spirit under assault than Billy O’Callaghan.”—Robert Olen Butler The prizewinning Irish short-story writer and author of the highly praised novel, My Coney Island Baby, delivers his most accomplished book of short fiction to date—a poignant story collection that “grips from the opening page” (Bernard MacLaverty).
These are twelve poignant, quietly dazzling, and carefully crafted stories that explore the resiliency of the human heart and its ability to keep beating in the wake of bereavement, violence, lost love, and incomparable trauma and grief.
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 airplane bound for Taipei, The Boatman and Other Stories follows an unforgettable cast of characters. 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 within his reach; a fisherman accustomed to hard labor rolls up his sleeves to dig a grave for his child; and a pair of newlyweds embark on their first adventure, living wild on the deserted Beginish Island.
Ranging from the elegiac to the brutally confrontational, these densely layered tales reveal the quiet heroism and gentle dignity of ordinary life. Billy O’Callaghan is a master celebrant of the smallness of the human flame against the dark: its strength and its steady brightness.