Foster

9780571255658

Foster confirms Claire Keegan’s talent. She creates luminous effects with spare material, so every line seems to be a lesson in the perfect deployment of both style and emotion.’ Hilary Mantel

‘A masterly combination of things pregnant and poised, frozen and in flux.’ Stephanie Cross, Times Literary Supplement

‘Foster is a thing of finely honed beauty and cumulative power, a story that deals in suggestion, exactitude and telling detail. It has the sure-footedness of great short story writing and a sense of confidence in the sparseness of the form that extends from the writer to the reader, allowing all that is not said to hold sway on the imagination.’ Sean O’Hagan, Observer

‘Keegan has mastered a style that echoes Seamus Heaney’s early poetry and the stories of William Trevor, but which has grown more enclosed and lyrical with each book. The dark humour of the early work has given way to a lush melancholy that has found its perfect length at 88 pages.’ Sameer Rahim, Daily Telegraph

‘A great short story says more than a novel; the genius of the finest short stories lies in what is left unsaid. The feel for the form of the Wicklow-born writer Claire Keegan is as unwavering as if she had first begun to sing opera in the mountains without ever having a music lesson. Her subversive stories are written with the sureness of touch possessed by only the most natural of musicians. The influences of her masters, William Trevor, John McGahern and, most intriguingly, Michael McLaverty, are evident, yet her stately, rhythmic prose, and its physicality, detached tone and assurance, are all her own … Foster, Keegan’s winning entry for last year’s Davy Byrnes Irish Writing Award, is a haunting, crafted narrative making superb use of the first-person voice and of an urgent present tense. It has beauty, harshness, menace and the spine of steel worthy of high art … There is no disputing that the greater the writing, the more may be confidently left unsaid. Keegan is a realist who has mastered describing the chaos of feeling. Humanity at its most vulnerable fills the silences in Foster, an unsentimental story that triumphs through a subtle ambivalence that stalks and shapes the emerging emotional intelligence of the narrator. Where does the Irish short story stand in the slipstream of frenetic suburbanisation? How has it been affected by social change? Does McGahern’s influence endure? How important is the sustaining of a tradition? Does emotional power invariably outgun stylistic innovation and experimentation? Exactly how good is Claire Keegan? This wonderful story, as daring today as were the stories of Edna O’Brien on publication, goes a long way towards answering all of those questions.’ Eileen Battersby, Irish Times

‘Imagine our glee, then, when we got a copy of the new book from one of our favourite Irish writers – the insanely talented short story wizard Claire Keegan … Keegan has stuck with her guns and written purely and simply and staggeringly well about yet more rural Irish life … Keegan’s writing always resists tricksiness and innovation, but it is the absolute, unquestionable real deal: everything about her storytelling rings dazzlingly true at all times … Foster will captivate you and then it will squish your heart. That’s worth way more than £6.99.’ Stuart Hammond, Dazed and Confused

‘Keegan’s lyrical novella was originally a New Yorker short story, but it has gained greatly from this expansion: the narrative breathes along with the child slowly detaching from her cramped, impoverished home and starting to unfurl, leaf-like, in an atmosphere of attentiveness. This is a story about liminal spaces: about having “room, and time to think”, about the shifting lines between secrecy and shame, and a child’s burgeoning apprehension of the gap between what must be explicit and what need merely be implied.’ Chris Ross, Guardian

‘This is a captivating short story … Foster, like most of Keegan’s short stories, shines like a jewel … Keegan’s description of the landscape, rural life, farmhouse interiors, the awkward silences, the sometimes bitter subtext beneath the pleasantries, is so good at times you put the book down to smile in recognition. Her summation of the way the men converse but don’t really talk to each other is perfect … above all, this little book is worth reading for the portrayal of the girl, the narrator of the story, whose conflicting emotions are at once delightful and heart-breaking as her horizons widen and her understanding grows. Through her eyes we see the adult world in a new light. Short stories are sometimes called gems. This one is as lyrical as poetry yet so concentrated it’s a novel in miniature. A real jewel.’ Irish Independent

‘A short (ish) piece of perfection.’ Alison Walsh, Irish Independent

Foster is a beautifully paced and delicately wrought tale … Claire Keegan has truly inhabited the mind of a child and crafted a story that will stay with you long after the final page has been read.’ Sunday Express

Foster is less than 90 pages long, but it makes for a subtly enlightening account of rural life. There’s a timeless feel to it. We see days pass through the eyes of the young narrator, and there’s authenticity there … this is seamlessly atmospheric writing and it stays, always, true to the child’s perspective.’ Sue Leonard, Irish Examiner

‘[Keegan] focuses on the eloquence of silence and the intimacy of wordless domesticity … the language is leanly evocative, its smallest details conveying reams about the girl’s foster home, a place warm, gleaming and without children.’ Hephzibah Anderson, Bloomberg

‘A lovely, lyrical, coming-of-age story that feels like an extended poem. Keegan’s prose captures tiny everyday moments and recasts them in unexpected ways in this stealthy story of the family secrets that lurk within the sunlight.’ Claire Allfree, Metro

‘Frankly, I am tempted to take against short stories like Claire Keegan’s for their sheer bloody perfection. Her seamless prose reads like one long poem. Foster is a long short story, not even a novella – and yes, it is perfect … Foster is a beautiful story.’ Literary Review

‘As good as Chekhov.’ David Mitchell, Telegraph