Being Various: New Irish Short Stories

Faber & Faber. Jun. 2019. 304p. ed. by ed. by Lucy Caldwell. ISBN 9780571342501. pap. $16. F
In her introduction to this collection of varied Irish tales, editor Caldwell (All the Beggars Riding) outlines the diversity found within: the book features authors who are “two-thirds female, one-third Northern. Two-thirds born in Ireland, two-thirds currently resident.” Some of the authors (Kevin Barry, Eimear McBride, Stuart Neville, Sally Rooney) are already reasonably well known here, while others will be new to readers. All offer crystal-clear looks at the inner lives of the conflicted, whether a young Chinese woman who builds an alternate life around the Facebook profile of a possible love interest (Yan Ge’s “How I Fell in Love with the Well-Documented Life of Alexander Whelan”); another young woman who, reluctantly and fearfully, returns to Northern Ireland for her murdered father’s funeral and is pressured to exact revenge (Adrian McKinty’s “Jack’s Return Home”); or a-small-hometown man who can’t understand what his brother’s flirty, rude, maybe-girlfriend wants from him (Rooney’s “Colour and Light”).
VERDICT A piercing look at the inner lives of a refreshing variety of Irish people.
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