Fuelled by his piercing wit and unfaltering gaze, this new collection from Philip Ó Ceallaigh is both a meditation on human frailty and an unflinching interrogation of love—of its losses and gains, and the surprising ways that it delivers purpose and meaning to our lives.
Philip Ó Ceallaigh has published more than fifty stories, most of which are collected here and in his two previous collections, Notes from a Turkish Whorehouse and The Pleasant Light of Day. He is a recipient of the Rooney Prize for Irish Literature, among other awards. He lives in Bucharest.
“Ó Ceallaigh is a rare literary artist, patient and meditative, with a gift for the evocation of simple things: light, heat, water, air, mud and dirt; food and drink: the smell of roasting peppers; the weighted drowsiness of dusk: ‘a red sun hung low over open sea’. His sentences are supple, swift and heady with figuration. Without snag or ceremony they traverse waking, dream and boozy doze, a world of the senses and inner view. The scope is vast: swathes of space and time alive in the progress of moments.”—Dublin Review of Books
“A different writer, perhaps a less self-assured one, might have produced a novel at this juncture. But Ó Ceallaigh persists with the short form, and his latest collection, Trouble, is testament to why. Short stories speak differently than novels. They can accommodate more craziness, sustain things that longer, more establishment form won’t tolerate. The tormented peculiarity, the dark humour and saturation of Ó Ceallaigh’s work could not be captured any other way.”—The Irish Times
“Ó Ceallaigh is a richly provocative writer, not in the usual sense of purveying cheap shocks or shallow transgressions, but in how his stories relentlessly challenge (trouble, even) a certain bien-pensance. It’s rarely comforting – he’s been accused, unfairly, of being overly dark and pessimistic – but it feels true.”—Sunday Independent
“Trouble is masterful. This book is the work of a meticulous writer who never lets that meticulousness show; though every precise sentence has been burnished until it sparkles, there is no lingering scent of sweat or polish, only the brilliant gleam of every word in each of the thirteen stories.”—Books Ireland
“Philip Ó Ceallaigh is a wonderful writer who dares to stay loyal to the short-story form. In this superb collection, the people he writes about are beautifully observed and precisely ‘fixed’. Here is a master in full control of his material.”
“Philip Ó Ceallaigh is my favourite living writer of short stories, and Trouble is full of what makes his work stand apart: the vision at once insistently carnal and mysteriously spiritual; the singular tone, so bright and bracing and clear; the wit and vagrant cheerfulness that animate these tales of run-down men and fed-up women in decaying cities.”—Rob Doyle
“The thrum of danger from Philip Ó Ceallaigh’s new collection, in lines so tight and clean they might as well be strung to the page with machine heads, is exhilarating and perception altering.”—Gavin Corbett
“Ó Ceallaigh leads the reader into spaces that are at once dream-like and utterly real. These stories inhabit a dimension all their own.”—Danielle McLaughlin
“Taut, tough stories of singular people. I loved them.”—Wendy Erskine
Cover Design: Catherine Gaffney