Grove Press
Grove Press
Grove Press

Small Things Like These

by Claire Keegan

Destined to be a modern classic from “an original and a canonical presence in Irish fiction” (Colm Tóibín), Small Things Like These is Claire Keegan’s landmark new novel, the tale of one man’s courage — and a remarkable portrait of love and family

  • Imprint Grove Hardcover
  • Page Count 128
  • Publication Date November 30, 2021
  • ISBN-13 978-0-8021-5874-1
  • Dimensions 5" x 7.25"
  • US List Price $20.00
  • Imprint Grove Hardcover
  • Publication Date November 30, 2021
  • ISBN-13 978-0-8021-5875-8
  • US List Price $20.00

The landmark new novel from award-winning author Claire Keegan

It is 1985 in a small Irish town. During the weeks leading up to Christmas, Bill Furlong, a coal merchant and family man faces into his busiest season. Early one morning, while delivering an order to the local convent, Bill makes a discovery which forces him to confront both his past and the complicit silences of a town controlled by the church.

Already an international bestseller, Small Things Like These is a deeply affecting story of hope, quiet heroism, and empathy from one of our most critically lauded and iconic writers.

Tags Literary

Praise for Small Things Like These:

“An Irishman uncovers abuse at a Magdalen laundry in this compact and gripping novel.… Keegan, a prizewinning Irish short story writer, says a great deal in very few words to extraordinary effect in this short novel. Despite the brevity of the text, Furlong’s emotional state is fully rendered and deeply affecting. Keegan also carefully crafts a web of complicity around the convent’s activities that is believably mundane and all the more chilling for it… A stunning feat of storytelling and moral clarity.”—Kirkus Reviews (starred review)

“The latest from multi-award-winning Irish novelist Keegan (Antarctica) indicts the social culture that enabled Ireland’s Magdalene Laundries and brilliantly articulates a decent person’s struggle of conscience… Keegan’s beautiful prose is quiet and precise, jewel-like in its clarity. Highly recommended.”—Library Journal (starred review)

“Keegan’s psychologically astute characterizations subtly convey the dual pressures of culpability and fear felt by the faithful… A trenchant and plangent work asking at what cost does one remain silent.”—Booklist

“This novel, which has all the trappings of a Claire Keegan story (small-town Ireland, a dark secret, a man with a burden to bear) is sure to be absolutely beloved by all who read it.”—Literary Hub

“Irish story writer Keegan’s gorgeously textured second novella (after Foster) centers on a family man who wants to do the right thing… Keegan beautifully conveys Bill’s interior life as he returns to the house where he was raised… It all leads to a bittersweet culmination, a sort of anti–Christmas Carol, but to Bill it’s simply sweet. Readers will be touched.”—Publishers Weekly

“There are many things I love about Claire Keegan’s writing. Her way with place and atmosphere, her perfectly structured stories, the fullness and generosity of the openings that narrow as time moves on and the options available to her characters seem to dwindle, bringing them (and us) to ends that are at once surprising and fated… All Keegan’s writing, including her long-awaited new novel, Small Things Like These, has this same immersive, deeply considered quality.”—Sarah Gilmartin, Irish Times

“A story that reached so deep I felt the characters moving around inside me. This unforgettable novel is a literary masterpiece and Claire Keegan is one of the world’s greatest living writers.” —Simon van Booy

“Small Things Like These is a hypnotic and electrifying Irish tale that transcends country, transcends time. Claire Keegan’s sentences make my heart pound and my knees buckle and I will always read everything she writes.” —Lily King

“In Small Things Like These, Claire Keegan creates scenes with astonishing clarity and lucidity. This is the story of what happened in Ireland, told with sympathy and emotional accuracy. From winter skies to the tiniest tick of speech to the baking of a Christmas cake, Claire Keegan makes her moments real—and then she makes them matter.” —Colm Tóibín, author of The Magician

Small Things Like These is not just about Ireland, it’s about the world, and it asks profound questions about complicity, about the hope and difficulty of change, and the complex nature of restitution… 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, author of The Mirror and the Light

“A book that makes you excited to discover everything its author has ever written… Absolutely beautiful.” —Douglas Stuart, author of Shuggie Bain

“Marvellous — exact and icy and loving all at once.”—Sarah Moss, author of Ghost Wall

“A true gift of a book… Reading it brings a sublime Chekhovian shock.”—Andrew O’Hagan, author of Be Near Me

I’m now reading it for the third time. This little book moved me so much. And I have been carrying it everywhere with me, underlying favorite passages (too many!). This book is a prayer, an elixir of courage, a school of life, a healing balm for our sorrows, a song to human kindness, and a gift of hope.”—Aggie Zivaljevic, Kepler’s Books (Menlo Park, CA)

Praise for Walk the Blue Fields:

“The best stories here are so textured and moving, so universal but utterly distinctive, that it’s easy to imagine readers savoring them many years from now. And to imagine critics, far in the future, deploying lofty new terms to explain what it is that makes Keegan’s fiction work.”—Maud Newton, New York Times Book Review

“These stories are pure magic. They add, using grace, intelligence and an extraordinary ear for rhythm, to the distinguished tradition of the Irish short story. They deal with Ireland now, but have a sort of timeless edge to them, making Claire Keegan both an original and a canonical presence in Irish fiction.”—Colm Tóibín

“Keegan is that rarest of writers—someone I will always want to read.”—Richard Ford, Irish Times, “Best Books of 2007”

“Perfect short stories . . . flawless structure . . . What makes this collection a particular joy is the run and pleasure of the language.”—Anne Enright, Guardian

“A young Irish prodigy . . . Writing in a striking, Celtic-slanted prose, Keegan exposes the hearts, hopes and dreams of those in the Irish countryside. . . . The collection unfolds powerfully, with stories that chronicle an isolated young woman’s discovery of seemingly magical powers, incest in a desperate Irish farm family and the disintegration of marriages. . . . astonishing.”—Alan Cheuse, NPR’s All Things Considered

“[Keegan’s] . . . collections have drawn comparisons to William Trevor and Anton Chekhov . . . [She] crafts stories out of small details and insight . . . like poetry. . . . Claire Keegan is the real deal.”—Keith Donohue, “You Must Read This” NPR.com

“[A] stunning second collection . . . Keegan’s stories are the literary counterparts to Picasso’s Blue Period paintings. . . . Keegan’s first collection, Antarctica, led to comparisons with Raymond Carver, but Annie Proulx, with her distilled, poetic prose and attunement to remote landscapes, is a closer match.”—Heller McAlpin, San Francisco Chronicle

“These short fictions by the Irish author Claire Keegan haven’t a style so much as a microclimate, a chill mist blowing in on a hard wind off the sea. . . . The author’s own storytelling powers have darkened and matured since her first collection, as she takes confident command of her craft.”—Amanda Heller, The Boston Globe

“Hope lurks somewhere in almost all [Keegan’s] stories. . . . You start out on the paths of these simple, rural lives, and not long into each, some bit of rage or unforgivable transgression bubbles up . . . Then the truly amazing happens: Life goes on, limps along, heads for some new chance at beauty.”—Susan Salter Reynolds, Los Angeles Times Book Review

Walk the Blue Fields may be among the best books you will read this year. . . . Keegan’s writing offers stark, intelligent flourishes and a look into the heart of rural Ireland, gurgling with desolate undercurrents.”—Vikram Johri, St. Petersburg Times

“Keegan’s debut collection, Antarctica, garnered comparisons with fellow Irish author William Trevor. Her follow-up has confirmed that she belongs in that fine story-telling tradition that harks back to Anton Chekhov. Sparse, bleak and unsentimental, her stories suggest that the only thing men and women truly share is the loneliness that confines them.”—Angel Gurria-Quintana, Financial Times

“A note-perfect short story is something a very few people can produce. The Irish writer Claire Keegan does it in her second collection of stories. . . . Immaculate structure, a lovely, easy flow of language, and a certain stony-eyed realism about human experience; she is very much part of an Irish tradition, but a unique craftswoman for all that.”—Hilary Mantel, New Statesman

“Exquisite stories, so intricately wrought, so strange and beguiling as to entirely bewitch.”—The Guardian

“Like Chekhov, Keegan has the ability to sum up a life, or a significant chunk of one, in apparently trivial, quotidian events. . . . in a voice that is lyrical, thoughtful, but with a thick, dark strain of melancholy running through it.”—Sunday Independent (5 stars)

“Powerful . . . The two foremost contemporary masters of the [short story] form, Alistair MacLeod and John McGahern, know that tradition can live even in the lament for its passing . . . Claire Keegan is their true successor, a writer already touched by greatness.”—Declan Kiberd, The Irish Times