x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 28 July 2017

Astray: enjoyable stories of people in transition

The 14 short stories in Emma Donoghue's new collection all concern themselves in some way with figures in transition, people (and one elephant) en route to new lives.

Astray
Emma Donoghue
Picador

"Migration is mortality by another name, the itch we can't scratch," writes the Dublin-born author Emma Donoghue, herself in elective exile in Canada. The 14 short stories in her new collection all concern themselves in some way with figures in transition, people (and one elephant) en route to new lives or undergoing the changes that migration cannot help but effect or discovering new aspects of themselves in extremis.

She's been called "one of the great literary ventriloquists of our time", and the range of her adopted voices is dazzling: from a bitter and lonely Puritan busybody in Cape Cod in 1639, to an ageing sculptor reaching out to a senile friend in Ontario in 1967. The stories are all based in fact, to some extent.

Donoghue has a great knack for descriptive lyricism ("Jane stares at the green hills, the fields dotted with cottages and the occasional spire that hooks the light"), married to great psychological acuity and insightfulness. These stories, of being and becoming, will reward the reader over and over.