Small Things Like These

Claire Keegan’s new novel has just been published by Faber and Faber.

Sebastian Barry chose it as his “Covid-comfort novel”, saying:

Small Things Like These, by Claire Keegan, for the nucleic control of the sentences. You’d nearly faint with the delicacy and the sadness of it. But mastery is a great tonic.” The full article can be read in The Independent.

‘A single one of Keegan’s grounded, powerful sentences can contain volumes of social history. Every word is the right word in the right place, and the effect is resonant and deeply moving.’ Hilary Mantel (Winner of the Booker Prize 2009 and 2012)

‘This is a tale of courage and compassion, of good sons and vulnerable young mothers. Absolutely beautiful.’ Douglas Stuart (Winner of the Booker Prize 2020)

‘Marvellous—exact and icy and loving all at once.’ Sarah Moss

‘A haunting, hopeful masterpiece.’ Sinéad Gleeson

‘Astonishing… Claire Keegan makes her moments real – and then she makes them matter.’ Colm Tóibín

‘A true gift of a book… a sublime Chekhovian shock.’ Andrew O’Hagan

‘A moral tale that is unsentimental and deeply affecting, because true and right.’ David Hayden

‘There’s an easy, fluent charm to Claire Keegan’s second novella that belies its core of steel and its shimmering rage at Ireland’s mother and baby home scandal. She’s an award-winning short-story writer whose writing is so meticulous that she can conjure time, place and personality in a few lines, sketching depth and shadow into the simplest scene. And Furlong’s dark night of the soul is beautifully wrought, as he struggles with the hypocrisy of his pious, Mass-loving neighbours allowing such cruelty in their midst. The ending will bring a tear to your eye.’ Siobhan Murphy, The Times. The whole review can be found here

Keegan has condensed a colossal piece of humanist fiction into a tiny volume. Hugely affecting, the story of Bill Furlong will remain with readers long after they close the book: he represents everyone whose kindness outlasts their presence.’ Financial Times

‘Slim but lethal, Small Things Like These is one of those books that will stay with you forever and takes ferocious aim at the horrors of the Magdalene Laundries in Ireland but also gives hope for the love and care people can show to one another.’ Stilist

‘Claire Keegan’s novel, Small Things Like These (Faber & Faber), wastes not a word in its depiction of a small Irish town guilty of collective blindness about the nuns who run a “training school for young women”. Keegan is an exquisite writer, who can enclose volumes of social history in one luminous phrase.’ Hilary Mantel, New Statesman

‘Most of my reading is retrospective, which is to say I don’t read a lot of stuff that’s been recently published. I like to wait for the dust to settle. But Claire Keegan’s new novella, Small Things Like These (Faber & Faber), is absolutely exquisite. Her work is exceptional.’ Damon Galgut, New Statesman

‘Claire Keegan’s Small Things Like These (Faber & Faber), written with precision and rhythmic care, is a story about an ordinary life in a small place and slowly becomes a brave and piercing exploration of a most difficult public matter.’ Colm Toibin, New Statesman

‘Claire Keegan’s Small Things Like These (Faber & Faber) could be called a novella but it feels much more like an epic distilled down to a single potent essence. Within the story of an ordinary man – a coal merchant in a provincial town in 1980s Ireland – there is a deep family history, a finely etched portrait of a society, a glimpse into the heart of darkness that was the Magdalene laundry system, a moving reflection on moral choice and a quietly brilliant artistry.’ Fintan O’Toole, New Statesman

‘Keegan’s beautifully written novella follows coal merchant Bill Furlong as he does his rounds in 1980s small-town Ireland in the run-up to Christmas, and the repercussions of a chance encounter he has at the local convent. Heartbreaking, hopeful, 128 pages — and a stunning dust jacket, to boot.’ Laura Battle, Financial Times

‘I don’t think that I’m the only person to have been captivated by Claire Keegan’s novella Small Things Like These. With deft, powerful economy it takes us back to 1980s Ireland and a small town where big secrets are withheld — and where silences are often more brutal than anything said.’ Fred Studemann, Financial Times