The Granta Book of the Irish Short Story

I’ve had this collection on my shelf for several years and finally picked it up in September. Like most of the Irish literature I’ve read, these stories were dense, subtle, and often very contextual. More than once, I had to look up some local slang that I hadn’t come across before, research a little bit of Irish politics or history, or even search for an analysis of a story whose message was so subtle. On one hand, this makes for a little bit of a tedious read, but, if you’re willing to do the work, it’s very rewarding. I say “very rewarding” for two reasons.

First, I think these are the kind of stories that can make you a better reader. You have to pay close attention and work toward understanding. You have to value the craft of setting, tone, plot, and dialogue to truly appreciate how skilled some of these writers are.

Secondly, doing the work to read these stories is rewarding because, well, they’re good stories! Most are gloomy, eerie, or even sad. But several of them have stuck with me, even just for an image or ambiance that they captured particularly well. I’ve found myself constantly thinking back to them when something (anything! the weather, a fence post, a bicycle) reminds me of a scene from one of these stories.

I’m sad to say that this collection is pretty hard to come by now, so I can’t link to it in my Bookshop page, but it’s still available in select locations and on Amazon.

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