New Island, €14.99
If you want proof that the storytelling tradition is still alive and well in Ireland, a quick scan through 'The New Hennessy Book of Irish Fiction' should dispel any doubts. The book gathers together a selection of short stories that first appeared in the New Irish Writing pages in the Sunday Tribune, from which winners of the Hennessy Literary Awards are drawn each year.
Tribune editor Ciaran Carty and former winner of the Hennessy Awards, Dermot Bolger, have selected some of the most memorable stories from the past ten years of New Irish Writing for this volume. As such, the collection is diverse, ranging from a story about a young man telling his father he is gay (Micháel Ó Congháile's 'Father'), to stories about love ('Dreams of Sailing' by Angela Bourke and Noëlle Harrison's 'Where She Belongs'), tales of farming (Richie Beirne's 'The Pet' and Eileen Brannigan's 'Ostrich') and stories about family ('Mothers' by Deirdre Nally and 'The Separation' by Paul Grimes).
Many of the names in the table of contents have become familiar to us and it's easy to see why from these stories. All the tales have their own voice and it's difficult to pick favourites out of such a superior collection, but Noëlle Harrison's offering stands out, as do Eileen Brannigan's heartbreaking 'Ostrich', Trudy Hayes' 'Dancing Queen' and Pól MacReannachán's intriguing 'The Pamela Anderson'.
The range of voices here is wonderful and the stories these writers have penned really give you something to think about. All short story lovers should have this little book in their collection.