The definitive collection from an Irish literary icon, “one of the masters of the short story” (Newsweek).
In the words of W. B. Yeats, Frank O’Connor “did for Ireland what Chekhov did for Russia.” Anne Tyler, writing in the Chicago Sun-Times, described his tales as “encapsulated universes.” This indispensable volume contains the best of his short fiction, from “Guests of the Nation” (adapted into an Obie Award–winning play) to “The Mad Lomasneys” to “First Confession” to “My Oedipus Complex.”
Dublin schoolteacher Ned Keating waves good-bye to a charming girl and to any thoughts of returning to his village home in the lyrical and melancholy “Uprooted.” A boy on an important mission is waylaid by a green-eyed temptress and seeks forgiveness in his mother’s loving arms in “The Man of the House,” a tale that draws on O’Connor’s own difficult childhood. A series of awkward encounters and humorous misunderstandings perfectly encapsulates the complicated legacy of Irish immigration in “Ghosts,” the bittersweet account of an American family’s pilgrimage to the land of their forefathers. In these and dozens of other stories, O’Connor accomplishes the miraculous, laying bare entire lives and histories in the space of a few pages.
As a writer, critic, and teacher, O’Connor elevated the short story to astonishing new heights. This career-spanning anthology, epic in scope yet brimming with small moments and intimate details, is a true pleasure to read from first page to last.
“His place in the company of W.B. Yeats, J.M. Synge and James Joyce seems secure.” —The Wall Street Journal
“One of the masters of the short story.” —Newsweek
“In his 63 years, Frank O’Connor produced an impressive amount of work . . . but it’s his short stories that guarantee his immortality. . . . Each [story] is, in its own way, shattering.” —Anne Tyler
“In almost all the stories in this excellently balanced collection O’Connor’s people explode from the page. The nice are here and the nasty; the gentle, the generous, the mean, the absurd, those rich in dignity, those without a shred of it . . . Without adornment, he simply tells the truth.” —William Trevor
“Though the subjects are mostly Irish and the landscape is either Cork or Dublin, the themes are as universal as those of Chekhov.” —Los Angeles Times Frank O’Connor (1903–1966) was born in Cork, Ireland, and fought for the Irish Republican Army in the war for independence. He was a prolific author of short stories, plays, literary criticism, memoir, and poetry, and the managing director of the Abbey Theatre in Dublin. In addition to being a renowned writer whom W. B. Yeats famously described as “doing for Ireland what Chekhov did for Russia,” O’Connor was also a highly regarded teacher and translator of Irish literature. The world’s richest prize for short fiction is named in his honor.