Catalogue record

Small things like these
Small things like these
Author: Keegan, Claire
Publication year: 2021
Media class: Hardback
Classification: AF
Publisher: Faber & Faber
Resource type: Physical
ISBN: 9780571368686
Booker Prize 2022 Longlist
Booker Prize 2022 Shortlist
It is 1985, in an Irish town. During the weeks leading up to Christmas, Bill Furlong, a coal and timber merchant, faces into his busiest season. As he does the rounds, he feels the past rising up to meet him - and encounters the complicit silences of a people controlled by the Church.
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The history of Ireland's Magdalen laundries is one of horrible cruelty and suffering. The triumph of this novella is to tell the terrible truth of that history without melodrama, but with quiet honesty and, without minimising the suffering, in a way that celebrates the individual goodness and bravery that resides in the human heart - in some human hearts at least. It's remarkable that such a short piece of work can show both how the social and moral order, dominated by the Church, made such horrors possible, and that tragedy did not necessarily have to result if individuals had the courage and compassion to stand against it. It's beautifully written, each sentence clear and precise, without a word wasted, and moving the action relentlessly forward towards its devastating and triumphant conclusion. James Joyce or Anton Chekhov are short story writers that come to mind reading this book. Superb.

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