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A young man driving across Ireland with his wife asks her how long she would wait before being with another man if he died. A man is trapped, hidden, in a small changing room by the sea on Galway Bay, as he listens to his friends discuss his wife’s infidelity. An anguished young boy and his widowed mother struggle to reconstruct their lost father and husband in their own respective ways. The stories in Country of the Grand magnify a New Ireland as it copes with the rewards and pressures of its fresh success: immigration, mid-life crisis, adultery and divorce, a lost sense of place and history, and of course, what to do with all that prosperity.
'Outstanding ... The writing crackles with truthfulness, a piercing acuity ... This is not the first fiction about Ireland's economic boom but it may well be the first to see it for what it truly was, in all its shimmering newness and garish strangeness - its ugliness somehow related to its beauty. That Gerard Donovan manages to unearth such resonant grace from that paradox is remarkable. This is an important and haunting collection.'
'Remarkable ... There are no forced epiphanies in these beautifully etched and skilfully crafted stories. Instead, Donovan makes us aware of the intricate but frequently repressed tracery of emotions that underwrites everyday life. His eloquent and masterly stories are at once intense reflections on the human condition and the deficits of contemporary Ireland, haunted by its refusal of the past and its obtuse denial of the psychic in favour of the material.'
'An exploration of human frailty draws together short stories from Irish novelist Gerard Donovan in Country of the Grand. Whether it's the depiction of Brenda and Peter surfing the waves of silence during a marital row, lost Harry Diezt suffering spurned love or John realising his wife is a kleptomaniac, Donovan's prose reveals the more sombre depths of psychological survival.'
'The sharpness of Donovan's melancholic eye makes him one of the most interesting writers of his generation.'
'Donovan, whose melancholy musings on grief were so beautifully woven into the novel, Julius Winsome, now offers us 13 tales chronicling loss in the midst of a country's economic emergence. Here are vignettes of the "new Ireland", burnished with the sheen of prosperity and all the more disorienting for it ... it is the nuanced observation of apparently inconsequential moments that makes Donovan's writing so affecting.'
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