‘Intimacies’ exquisitely charts the steps and missteps of young women trying to find their place in the world. From a Belfast student ordering illegal drugs online to end an unwanted pregnancy to a young mother’s brush with mortality; from a Christmas Eve walking the city centre streets when everything seems possible, to a night flight from Canada which could change a life irrevocably, these are stories of love, loss and exile, of new beginnings and lives lived away from ‘home’.
They burned down the market on the day Vivek Oji died. One afternoon, a mother opens her front door to find the length of her son’s body stretched out on the veranda, swaddled in akwete material, his head on her welcome mat. ‘The Death of Vivek Oji’ transports us to the day of Vivek’s birth, the day his grandmother Ahunna died. It is the story of an over protective mother and a distant father, and the heart-wrenching tale of one family’s struggle to understand their child, just as Vivek learns to recognize himself.
Linda returns to Colombia after twenty years away. Sent to England after her mother’s death when she was eight, she’s searching for the person who can tell her what’s happened in the time that has passed. Matty – Linda’s childhood confidant, her best friend – now runs a refuge called The Anthill for the street kids of Medell?n. But her long-anticipated reunion with him is struck by tension. Memory is fallible, and Linda discovers that everyone has a version of the past that is very, very different.
A woman invites a famed artist to visit the remote coastal region where she lives, in the belief that his vision will penetrate the mystery of her life and landscape. Over the course of one hot summer, his provocative presence provides the frame for a study of female fate and male privilege, of the geometries of human relationships, and of the struggle to live morally between our internal and external worlds. With its examination of the possibility that art can both save and destroy us, ‘Second Place’ is deeply affirming of the human soul, while grappling with its darkest demons.
From meditations on subway poetry and the temporal resonances of an empty Italian street, to considerations of the lives and work of Sigmund Freud, Constantine Cavafy, W. G. Sebald, John Sloan, Marcel Proust, and Fernando Pessoa, and portraits of cities such as Alexandria and St. Petersburg, ‘Homo Irrealis’ is a deep reflection of the imagination’s power to shape our memories under time’s seemingly intractable hold.
Robert is a struggling writer living in Berlin with his wife and two young daughters. In a bookshop one night, he meets Patrick, an enigmatic stranger with a sensational story to tell: a ghostwriter for a Russian oligarch recently found hanged, who is now being followed. But is he really in danger? Patrick’s life strikes Robert as a fabrication, but a magnetic one that begins to obsess him. He decides to use Patrick, and his story.
‘Sudden Traveller’ is Sarah Hall’s third story collection. Featuring her signature themes of identity, eroticism, and existential quest, these new stories travel far afield in location and ambition. From Turkish forests to rain-drenched Cumbrian villages, Hall’s characters walk, drive, dream, and fly, trying to reconcile themselves with their journeys through life, death, and love. Science fiction meets folktale and philosophy meets mortality.
Everyone has a Tully Dawson: the friend who defines your life. In the summer of 1986, in a small Scottish town, James and Tully ignite a brilliant friendship based on music, films and the rebel spirit. With school over and the locked world of their fathers before them, they rush towards the climax of their youth: a magical weekend in Manchester, the epicentre of everything that inspires them in working-class Britain. There, against the greatest soundtrack ever recorded, a vow is made: to go at life differently. Thirty years on, half a life away, the phone rings. Tully has news.