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The Boatman and Other Stories Reviews

The Boatman and Other Stories by Billy O'Callaghan

The Boatman and Other Stories

Billy O'Callaghan

Score pending

2 reviews

Category: Fiction
Imprint: Jonathan Cape Ltd
Publisher: Vintage Publishing
Publication date: 7 Jan 2020
ISBN: 9781787330900

The breathtaking short story collection from the Costa-shortlisted Irish writer In these twelve quietly dazzling, carefully crafted stories, Billy O'Callaghan explores the resilience of the human heart and its ability to keep beating even in the wake of grief, trauma and lost love.

4 stars out of 5
Phil Baker
2 Feb 2020

"these stories focus on the glimmer of heart in the hardness of life"

Reliable ingredients — love, bereavement, Paris in the rain — give an unforced gravity and lyricism to stories that range across an impossible relationship in Taiwan, an IRA man on a lethal mission, and a boy’s muted friendship with an isolated old woman. Best known for his short and melancholy novel My Coney Island Baby, O’Callaghan is a reliably consummate performer, and these stories focus on the glimmer of heart in the hardness of life, and on those “diamond moments plucked from an otherwise incessant drabness”.


3 stars out of 5
12 Jan 2020

"Rich prose and sumptuous imagery"

While the writing is invariably delightful, the observations can sometimes feel out of step with our times. A blurb on the back of the book proclaims ‘For fans of John McGahern, Sebastian Barry, and Bernard MacLaverty.’ Two of those fine writers, at least, are old enough to be Billy O’Callaghan’s father, or grandfather even.

Sometimes you feel he has swallowed McGahern whole and turned into him.