Claire Keegan

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Small Things Like These

Longlisted for the Booker Prize 2022
book | Fiction | Oct 2021
UK & Comm excluding Canada → Faber & Faber (Ed. Alex Bowler)
US & Canada → Grove Atlantic

It is 1985, in an Irish town. During the weeks leaving up to Christmas, Bill Furlong, a coal and timber merchant, faces into his busiest season. Early one morning, he makes a delivery to the local convent - and confronts the darkness and complicit silences of a town controlled by the church.

The long-awaited new work by the author of Foster, Small Things Like These is an unforgettable story of hope, quiet heroism and tenderness.

Rights

Claire Nozieres manages the translation rights for Small Things Like These

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Media
Small Things Like These US Proof
Reviews

[A] miracle of concision, compressing the usually capacious novel form into diamond.

The Guardian

Irish highlights were Claire Keegan's impactful Small Thing Like These...

Sarah Gilmartin

A short book with a deep range and confronts delicate questions and troubling secrets and aplomb.

Diarmaid Ferriter

A striking tale of hope and heroism, Keegan's new novel is dedicated to the women and children who "suffered time" in the Magdalene laundries. It is a simple but powerful story. 

Irish Examiner

Claire Keegan's restrained fablelike Small Thing Like These glows with the moral courage of its hero in the face of the Catholic Church's brutality and the community's mindless connivance. 

Rebecca O'Connor

An understated novel.

Sunday Express

Irish highlights were Claire Keegan's impactful Small Thing Like These...

Sarah Gilmartin

Claire Keegan's restrained fablelike Small Thing Like These glows with the moral courage of its hero in the face of the Catholic Church's brutality and the community's mindless connivance. 

Rebecca O'Connor

Confirms Keegan's reputation as an exquisite literary miniaturist who makes a little go a long way. 

Daily Mail

An understated novel.

Sunday Express

A striking tale of hope and heroism, Keegan's new novel is dedicated to the women and children who "suffered time" in the Magdalene laundries. It is a simple but powerful story. 

Irish Examiner

It is a brave move to take on the complex, systematic cruelty of Ireland's Magdalene laundries in a novella, and Claire Keegan writes with a rare power and texture... A restrained and intensely moral book, full of hope and love. 

The Observer

Exquisite and engaging ... Keegan's slender, haunting novella packs an emotional punch.

Psychologies

Written with barely a word out of place, Keegan's exquisite novel brims with fury at the Irish towns whose silence effectively sanctioned for decades untold abuses at the heart of their communities. 

Metro



“Keegan’s prose, as she describes this trapped-in-amber world, is both nostalgic and practical: The scope of village life may be small, but its texture is rich” 


Lydia Millet, The New York Times
https://www.nytimes.com/2021/12/30/books/review/8-new-books-we-recommend-this-week.html

“At the opening of “Small Things Like These,” one immediately senses that Keegan is breathing something vital into the season’s most cherished tales, until, as gently as snow falling, her little book accrues the unmistakable aura of a classic [...] Keegan has carved out a profoundly moving and universal story[...] Get two copies: one to keep, one to give.”

Ron Charles, The Washinton Post

“Rich in sly humor and wry compassion”

Ms. Mundow, Wall Street Journal
https://www.wsj.com/articles/small-things-like-these-review-fiction-claire-keegan-ireland-magdalene-laundries-a-road-through-the-mist-11637942160

Small Things Like These is a gem of a slim novel about a family man faced with a moral decision.

Associated Press

“Rich in sly humor and wry compassion”

Ms. Mundow, Wall Street Journal
https://www.wsj.com/articles/small-things-like-these-review-fiction-claire-keegan-ireland-magdalene-laundries-a-road-through-the-mist-11637942160

"Keegan’s precisely considered details about character, setting, memory, and dramatic moment create a story you will want to read again and again. Her deceptively simple language is pitch-perfect"

Valerie Miner, Boston Globe

Small Things Like These is an ideal title for this exquisite novella in which Claire Keegan closely attends to the daily life of a modest County Wexford coal vendor. In very little space, Keegan distills the texture of village life during Ireland’s devastating 1980s recession. While the novella is a sharp critique of Catholic institutions, it’s also a bold examination of Christian charity.

The Globe

Claire Keegan, award-winning author of two collections of short stories and a novella, now gives us her best work yet. Small Things Like These is a short, wrenching, thoroughly brilliant novel mapping the path of one man's conscience, its torment and vacillation between two courses of action [...] Spare and potent, this is a remarkable story about a terrible crime and a riven conscience.

Star Tribune

Claire Keegan is just one of those authors who never misses. Small Things Like These considers one of Ireland’s Magdalene laundries (Catholic houses of “fallen women”), bringing them into focus through the glance of an ordinary man who accidentally uncovers one. With the precision and depth of a short story – her usual genre – Keegan captured and affected my whole attention. She draws a web of complicity around the convent’s activities that is chillingly mundane and brutally true. These kinds of places existed not just because of the cruelty of the people who ran them, but also because of the fear and selfishness of those who were willing to ignore them. Stunning. Just stunning.

NPR Best Books 2021

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.

Sebastian Barry
Independent.ie

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, is absolutely exquisite. Her work is exceptional.

Damon Galgut
New Statesman

Claire Keegan’s Small Things Like These 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
FT

Keegan knows how to weigh and pace her sentences, and her fine judgement delivers many subtle pleasures.

TLS

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.

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
FT

Small Things Like These assures us we are all capable of doing the right thing, and that goodness, like misery, can be handed on from man to man. It is a literary state of grace.

The Herald

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.

Stylist

Small Things Like These is a story of hope, quiet heroism and tenderness.

The Telegraph

Small Things Like These is gripping and subtly emotionally charged from start to finish.
Breathtaking.

Sunday Independent

A gem of a novella [...] a tale as dark as anthracite expertly compressed so the light shines forth like a diamond.

RTE Guide Woman's Own

A tender [...] pitch perfect tale.

Irish Independent

Claire Keegan's novella is perfectly titled: all its power lies in its understatement; all its heft is its apparent weightlessness [...] Keegan is the goddess of small things. Her ability to conjure whole worlds from a few words; an entire relationship from a handful of exchanges, is little short of miraculous [...] Small Things Like These assures us we are all capable of doing the right thing, and that goodness, like misery, can be handed on from man to man. It is a literary state of grace.

Herald

A short, masterful novel [...] Detailed, insightful and written with striking economy of language [...] a timely and powerful book.

Irish Times

The monumental power of Claire Keegan is that she can create these cuckoo-clock narratives where every single word seems to be a necessary contribution to the overall mechanism of the novel. She is all killer, no filler [...] how lucky we are to have Keegan, a genuine once-in-a-generation writer whose dedication to her craft is as meticulous as it is masterly.

Barry Pierce
The Sunday Times

A powerful, haunting drama, this novella is essential reading in 2021.

Sunday Business Post

This distinctly unfestive Christmas tale confirms Keegan's reputation as an exquisite literary miniaturist who makes a little go a long way.

Daily Mail

It is a brave move to take on the complex, systematic cruelty of Ireland’s Magdalene laundries in a novella, and Claire Keegan writes with a rare power and texture [...] A restrained and intensely moral book, full of hope and love.

Observer

Although concretely realist, and grounded in dark social history, everything about this remarkable novella feels in some way miraculous; from the parable-like impression of the story itself, which culminates in an act of bravery and true Christian humanity, to the modest, measured beauty of Keegan’s prose.

The Telegraph

Here is something you don’t come across often - a perfect novel. Nobody who reads it will be disappointed. It is small but very special. A powerful, hopeful, masterful little book

Róisín Ingle

Keegan’s beautiful prose is quiet and precise, jewel-like in its clarity. Highly recommended.

Library Journal

Irish writer Keegan’s languid and crystalline prose is surprisingly powerful, poetically describing a Thatcher-era Dickensian village of financially struggling citizens preparing for the holiday while hinting at grim secrets just below the surface. […] A trenchant and plangent work asking at what cost does one remain silent.

Bill Kelly

‘Powerful and affecting and very timely. 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

'It’s marvellous - exact and icy and loving all at once. I hadn’t read any Claire Keegan so I’m delighted to have found a new author.'

Sarah Moss

'I read it immediately, as everyone will who gets it, as
everyone will when it is published. Claire Keegan creates scenes with astonishing clarity and moments of drama with pure lucidity. This is where I am from, I know these winter skies. Claire makes it accurately, down to the tiniest tick of speech to the making of a Christmas cake, and then she makes it matter.'

Colm Tóibín

No better feeling than reading a book that makes you excited to discover everything its author has ever written... This is a tale of courage and compassion, of good sons and vulnerable young mothers. Absolutely beautiful.

Douglas Stuart

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

Irish story writer Keegan's gorgeously textured novella centers on a family man who wants to do the right thing [...] It all leads to a bittersweet culmination, a sort of anti-Christmas Carol [...] Readers will be touched.

Publishers Weekly

'With stunning economy, Keegan tells a powerful story of Ireland's unresolved past, in gorgeous, exacting prose. A haunting, hopeful masterpiece.'

Sinead Gleeson

'Small Things Like These goes straight to the heart — it is both precise and beautiful. A true gift of a book, controlled yet abundant in small wonders. To me it’s a novel about complicity, the things we decide not to see, and reading it brings a sublime Chekhovian shock.’

Andrew O'Hagan

'In simple prose, Claire Keegan implies without explication; suggests without caricaturising… hers is one of the most important voices of the young Irish generation.’

L'Humanite

Now so much fiction amounts to cant and cliche, here Claire Keegan shines like a diamond, knowing the wisest writing is the simplest, and Small Things Like These will break your heart with its honesty, steeped in the shock of human kindness. A triumph.

Frank McGuinness

Exquisite and enraging [...] Keegan's slender, haunting novella packs an emotional punch.

Psychologies