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The Irish Short Story

Traditions and Trends

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Edited By Elke D'hoker and Stephanie Eggermont

Often hailed as a ‘national genre’, the short story has a long and distinguished tradition in Ireland and continues to fascinate readers and writers alike. Critical appreciation of the Irish short story, however, has laboured for too long under the normative conception of it as a realist form, used to depict quintessential truths about Ireland and Irish identity. This definition fails to do justice to the richness and variety of short stories published in Ireland since the 1850s. This collection aims to open up the critical debate on the Irish short story to the many different concerns, influences and innovations by which it has been formed. The essays gathered here consider the diverse national and international influences on the Irish short story and investigate its genealogy. They recover the short fiction of writers neglected in previous literary histories and highlight unexpected strands in the work of established writers. They scrutinize established traditions and use cutting-edge critical frameworks to discern new trends. Taken together, the essays contribute to a more encompassing and enabling view of the Irish short story as a hybrid, multivalent and highly flexible literary form, which is forever being reshaped to meet new insights, new influences and new realities.
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Introduction: Complicating the Irish Short Story

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ELKE D’HOKER

Complicating the Irish Short Story

The twenty-first century has so far been good to the Irish short story. Major writers such as Colm Tóibín, Anne Enright, Éilís Ní Dhuibhne, William Trevor, Edna O’Brien, John McGahern, and Bernard MacLaverty published brilliant new short story collections or brought out collected stories to great acclaim.1 Many younger writers made their name with short story collections and went on to win important prizes: The Rooney Prize for Irish Literature was awarded to the short story collections of Claire Keegan (2000), Keith Ridgway (2001), Philip Ó Ceallaigh (2006), and Kevin Barry (2007), and the latter was also the 2012 winner of the Sunday Times Short Story Award. Cork hosted the first Frank O’Connor Short Story festival in 2000 and awarded its international prize to Edna O’Brien for Saints and Sinners in 2011 and to Colin Barrett for Young Skins in 2014. Colm Tóibín, Claire Keegan and Kevin Barry received the Edge Hill Short Story Prize, established in 2007, and many more Irish writers figured on its shortlists. In 2012, Mary Costello’s short story collection The China ← 1 | 2 → Factory was shortlisted for the Guardian First Fiction Award, while Anne Enright, Claire Keegan and Sara Baume were the recipients of the newly established Davy Byrnes Short Story Award.

To meet the demands of a reading public avid for short fiction, further, several new anthologies of Irish short fiction have been published since 2000. The...

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