The shortlist for the Davy Byrne's Award is announced today in the Irish Times. I've met/heard of/know/read five of the writers, but Susan Stairs is a new name to me. Eoin McNamee is the solo male on the shortlist.
The winner will be announced later this month. Good luck to all, but especially to my pal, Kathleen. More here and below is the shortlist with Richard Ford - the judge's - thoughts on each story:
Foster by Claire Keegan
A child’s rapt and eloquent vision of life-in-tumult between two families. In lifting a homely rural life to our moral notice, the story exhibits a patient attention to life’s vast consequence and finality, and does so through a lavish, discriminating appetite for language and its profound capacity to return us to life renewed.
Living in Unknown by Mary Leland
An elegant and harrowing story of aging and reconciliation and compassion, and of the edgy separation of one’s self from the moorings of past, parents and youth. This story is intense with experience and with language that’s vividly apt. The reader’s own experience is of an anguish that somehow consoles and preserves.
This Isn’t Heaven by Molly McCloskey
A subtle and perceptive story, set in contemporary Africa, that deftly and affectingly compresses and focuses time and geography. Its signal success is one that it shares with many excellent stories: to locate drama to the side of where we might expect to find it and then to make its subject seem essential. Here, a man loves a woman, but never manages to experience love at all.
The Road Wife by Eoin McNamee
An irresistible story of modern Europe – long-haul truckers, Russian prostitutes, storms at sea, flood-lit embarcaderos past midnight, pale longing – and death. The language here, the authority, the stark atmospherics are incomparable and by themselves are worth this story’s brief, hectic, melancholy journey.
Storm Glass by Kathleen Murray
A stylish, remarkably confident story that makes a pretty virtue out of the flecks of stark memory and language with which we construct a cohesive past and a saving view of ourselves within it. Narratively, it is a rich and moving variation upon an image – storm – the radiant consequences of which last on far beyond its appointed day.
The Rescue by Susan Stairs
A nervy, tightly compressed, and alarmingly brief story of human extremis: children hurtling to the ends of the too-short tethers connecting them to modern existence. Graceful and knowing in its stripped-out and plumbed bleakness, it is a love story – of a kind – but a kind in which love scarcely avails.