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2022 Shortlist

The Art of Falling

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ABOUT
THE BOOK

Nessa McCormack’s marriage is coming back together again after her husband’s affair. She is excited to be in charge of a retrospective art exhibit for one of Ireland’s most beloved and enigmatic artists, the late sculptor Robert Locke. But the arrival of two outsiders imperils both her personal and professional worlds: a chance encounter with an old friend threatens to expose a betrayal Nessa thought she had long put behind her, and at work, an odd woman comes forward claiming to be the true creator of Robert Locke’s most famous work, The Chalk Sculpture.

As Nessa finds the past intruding on the present, she must decide whether she can continue to live a lie – or whether she’s ready to face the consequences once everything is out in the open.

Comments from the Judges

Danielle McLaughlin’s novel is set in Cork. Its curator protagonist, Nessa McCormack, is organizing a retrospective of the work of a Scottish-born sculptor, Robert Locke. Locke established himself in West Cork, at the end of the 1960s, after years of wandering. Locke’s studio and his sculpture ‘Venus at the Hotel Negresco’, known colloquially as ‘The Chalk Sculpture’ will become a permanent exhibit in the museum where Nessa is employed. Nessa has worked long and hard for this event and has nurtured a relationship with Locke’s widow Eleanor and daughter Loretta. Women attribute healing powers to the statue, fetishizing it as a cure for infertility. At a public lecture on Locke’s work, another woman, Melanie Doerr, comes forward and tells Nessa that she was the model for the monumental piece, claiming that Locke spent a period of time with her in 1972. These are lost months in Locke’s biography, when Locke disappeared without trace, turning up later, like an unkempt beggar, on Eleanor’s doorstep offering neither explanation nor apology. While Nessa’s professional life revolves around the mystery of Locke’s disappearance and the veracity of Melanie Doerr’s claims, Nessa’s own personal life is in turmoil. She struggles with the aftermath of her husband’s affair, their threadbare finances, and their teenage daughter’s behavioural problems. McLaughlin creates a compelling portrait of a life spent in pursuit of art and happiness. She summons up contemporary Cork, the universality of marital woes, and the everyday frustrations of middle-age in elegantly chiseled prose.

 

ABOUT
THE AUTHOR Danielle
McLaughlin

Danielle McLaughlin is the author of the short story collection Dinosaurs on Other Planets. Her stories have appeared in the New Yorker, Irish Times, the Stinging Fly, and various anthologies. She has won many awards including the Sunday Times Audible Short Story Award, and the Merriman Short Story Competition in memory of Maeve Binchy, among others. The Art of Falling is her first novel.

Danielle McLaughlin is the author of the short story collection Dinosaurs on Other Planets. Her stories have appeared in the New Yorker, Irish Times, the Stinging Fly, and various anthologies. She has won many awards including the Sunday Times Audible Short Story Award, and the Merriman Short Story Competition in memory of Maeve Binchy, among others. The Art of Falling is her first novel.

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NOMINATING LIBRARY COMMENTS

I’d like to nominate “The art of falling” by Danielle McLaughlin. My reasons for this are that I found it a very gripping read – I just couldn’t put it down, from the first page onwards. She has a distinctive style which I like, which draws you in. It feels a bit like she’s having a conversation with you, letting you into the world of the main character, which is what every author aspires to, I think.

Cork City Libraries, Ireland

ADDITIONAL INFORMATION

Date published
05/01/2021
Country
Ireland
Original Language
English
Publisher
John Murray

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