Young Irelanders is edited by Dave Lordan, who teaches experimental fiction. The collection departs from the classic Irish short story of the small town, the farm, the melancholy and the penury. The small town is no more, in Saving Tanya, Kevin Curran observes the universal, invasive impact of FaceBook and Click Culture. The slut-shaming and cyber-bullying, that seems to be all too prevalent today, leads to surprising and tragic consequences and is poetically narrated by a young teenage boy.
Roisin O’Donnell breaks the bounds of the short story in a long narrative about a Brazilian primary school teacher married to an Irish musician. In How to Learn Irish in Seventeen Steps, O’Donnell has innovated with a texture and depth not often encountered in the short form. In order for Luana to teach in a primary school she must be able to speak Irish, this involves a visit from the cigire and a trip to the Gaeltacht. There is a subtle tyranny at play and a low level infidelity. Luana poignantly asks herself, ‘how do you say how you really feel in any language?’
Novelist Mia Gallagher has included an extract from a novel, Beautiful Pictures of the lost Homeland, adapted to deal with the theme of national identity, homeland and how we collectively and individually navigate that identity in times of crisis. Also selected by Lordan to represent Ireland’s gifted short-fiction writers are Sheila Armstrong, Claire-Louise Bennett, Colin Barrett, Rob Doyle, Oisín Fagan, Alan McMonagle, Cathy Sweeney, Eimear Ryan and Sydney Weinberg.
These two diverse and compelling collections ( a kind of compass also reviewed) represent the finest talent in contemporary writing and editorial guidance in a world where homeland is mutable, distance is relative, identity is fluid and exile is never far away.
Sunday Indo Living