It is 1985, in an Irish town. During the weeks leading up to Christmas, Bill Furlong, a coal and timber merchant, faces into his busiest season. As he does the rounds, he feels the past rising up to meet him — and encounters the complicit silences of a people controlled by the Church.
About the Author:
Claire Keegan’s stories are translated into thirty languages. Antarctica won the Rooney Prize for Irish Literature. Walk the Blue Fields won the Edge Hill Prize, awarded to the best collection of stories published in the British Isles. Foster won the Davy Byrnes Award, one of the richest literary prizes in the world and was brought to the screen as the Irish language film An Cailín Ciúin/The Quiet Girl which has been shortlisted for an Oscar in the Best International Film category.
Small Things Like These was shortlisted for the 2022 Booker Prize, and for the Rathbones Folio Prize, and won the Kerry Group Irish Novel of the Year Award and the Orwell Prize for Political Fiction.
Nominating Library’s Comments:
With exceptional grace, economy and storytelling skill, Keegan has penned a classic story of moral courage that encapsulates so much of what it means to be human today. This short novel is bigger than any award but deserves all the recognition it can get.
– Chicago Public Library
A tiny, perfect novel reminding us of a shameful part of Ireland’s history, seen through the eyes of a coal merchant whose eyes are opened to the iron grip of the Catholic church on the hearts and minds of his community. Heart-breaking and thought provoking.
– Waterford City and Council Library Services
116 pages of beautifully written prose, the story centres around Bill Furlong, his upbringing, and his empathy to the inmates of the local Magdalene convent. Claire Keegan’s sublime and moving novel, covering the weeks before Christmas 1985, shows the importance of facing up to our past, and the historic collusion between Church, State, and Irish society. As Bill’s wife remarked; ““If you want to get on in life, there’s things you have to ignore, so you can keep on.””
– Dún Laoghaire-Rathdown Libraries, Dublin
The master storytelling is in Furlong, as the gentle quiet hero. The reader would follow him to the darkest pits and back, and we do. This is a really important novel for a society where absolute authority has reigned. By the end of this book, the soul feels a little healed.
– Galway Public Libraries