The Vintage Book of Contemporary Irish Fiction

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Paperback, 561 pages
Vintage Books, 1995
First Vintage Books Edition, Fourth Printing

This dazzling anthology, edited and introduced by Dermot Bolger, is a splendidly comprehensive and up-to-the-minute collection of the finest recent fiction from a nation of master storytellers.

Here are Irishman and Irishwomen at home and abroad, growing up and growing old, living in pastoral village or at loose in London and New York.  Here, in short, is a collection of astonishing breadth that reveals a literature or genuinely global stature, as ancient as the Irish Sea and as up-to-the-minute as a newsflash. 

Contributors and stories include: John Banville, from Mefisto; Leland Bardwell, "The Hairdresser"; Sebastian Barry, from The Engine of Owl-Light; Mary Beckett, "Heaven"; Samuel Beckett, "For to End Yet Again"; Sara Berkeley, "The Sky's Gone Out"; Dermot Bolger, "The Journey Home"; Claire Boylan, "Villa Marta"; Shane Connaughton, "Ojus"; Mary Dorcey, "The Husband"; Roddy Doyle, from The Snapper; Anne Enright, "Men and Angels"; Hugo Hamilton, from Surrogate City; Dermot Healy, "The Death of Matti Bonner"; Aidan Higgins, from Balcony of Europe; Desmond Hogan, from A Curious Street; Jennifer Johnston, from The Christmas Tree; Neil Jordan, "Last Rights"; Molly Kean, Patrick McCabe, from The Butcher Boy; Brian Moore, "The Sight"; Edna O'Brien, "What a Sky"; William Trevor, "The Ballroom of Romance"; Val Mulkerns, "Memory and Desire"; Robert McLiam Wilson, from Ripley Bogle, and many more.

Editorial Review(s)

"Ireland has never been short of quality writers, but since 1968, the year free secondary education was introduced, a storm of new writing has arisen, much of it approaching the potency of Joyce and Beckett and all of it serving to illustrate the diversity and dynamism of the contemporary Irish experience. The absence of work written in, or translated from, Gaelic notwithstanding, this anthology of short fiction and novel extracts from 50 writers (many previously unpublished in the U.S.) comes as close as possible to capturing the scope and vitality of Irish literature today. The collection opens with a late piece by Beckett, who's credited in the illuminating introduction as an increasingly important influence, and moves through sections arranged in the chronological order in which works are set. The juxtapositions are canny: younger bloods like Neil Jordan and Bernard MacLaverty rub shoulders with well-known writers like Mary Lavin and William Trevor, and the established young writers like Roddy Doyle and Patrick McCabe face off with even younger, but no less promising, newcomers like Bridget O'Connor and Colum McCann. Perhaps most remarkable is the variety of tone, style and topic; going far beyond traditional concerns, the selections show a society flexing its muscles. Sins of omission are inevitable in any anthology?bestseller Maeve Binchy, for example, is absent?but with selections from John Banville, Brian Moore, Edna O'Brian, Colm Toibin, John McGahern, Deirdre Madden, Gerardine Meaney and many more, this is a wide-ranging, highly readable and probably definitive survey of the wealth of talent in Ireland."  --Publishers Weekly

About the Author

Dermot Bolger is a renowned Irish poet, playwright, and novelist with over 45 works to his name. In his writing, he concerns himself with the Irish middle class and the struggles many face trying to understand the relevance of traditional national identity. Bolger’s characters often mirror his desire for a more inclusive society. His plays have earned him a number of awards, including the Oxford Samuel Beckett Theatre Trust Award for Best Debut Play, an Edinburgh Festival Scotsman Fringe First Award, and the Irish Times/ESB Prize for Best New Irish Play in 2004.