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Antarctica by Claire Keegan is a grand, cold sweep of a short story collection, inhabiting a world where dreams, memory and chance can have crippling consequences for those involved.

About the Author

Claire Keegan was born in 1968 and grew up on a farm in Wicklow, the youngest of a large Catholic family. She travelled to New Orleans, Louisiana when she was seventeen and studied English and Political Science at Loyola University. She returned to Ireland in 1992. She started writing in 1994 and lived for a year in Cardiff. She took an MA in Creative Writing and taught undergraduates for a year at the University of Wales.Her first collection of short stories, Antarctica, was completed in 1998. It announced her as an exceptionally gifted and versatile writer of contemporary fiction and was awarded the Rooney Prize for Literature. She is currently working on a second collection of stories and her d but novel. She is also finishing another MA, this time at Trinity College, Dublin.Claire Keegan lives in County Louth, Ireland.


The chill reaches to the bones of this debut collection of 15 stories by Keegan, an acclaimed young Irish writer whose precisely articulated, clear prose illuminates her native land. In Keegan's Ireland, it is eternally winter, and familial relations provide neither appeasing warmth nor protection. Her mostly female narrators dwell on the cusp of self-knowledge; they have ruefully observed the example set by their mothers, aunts and grandmothers "flat-bellied, temperamental women who've given up and call it happiness" and are slowly feeling out new possibilities for their own lives. Rebellions range from the small and symbolic (a mother takes the wheel of a car and leaves her husband stranded) to the wider-reaching (a woman decides to keeps her illegitimate child). Such victories cannot keep the harshness of the world at bay and are of little help, for example, to the couple whose daughter is kidnapped. Yet Keegan depicts the ascendance of a generation of women who "can butt in and take over, rescue and be rescued" in an Ireland on the verge of a self-generated wave of feminism. The setting of several stories in the U.S. (where Keegan did her undergraduate work) is indicated only by a smattering of details such as baseball hats and fast food; they might as well, and with greater effect, have been set in Ireland. While Keegan's imagery occasionally bears the clear brand of the M.F.A. program, these moments are few and are outweighed by the restraint with which she deploys such imagery, and by her stern refusal to fall back on anything that might resemble a happy ending. (July) Forecast: Keegan is a comer in Ireland, where she won both the William Trevor Prize and the Rooney Prize in 2000. A keen and unflinching observer, she will appeal to fans of Roddy Doyle. Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.

An upcoming Irish writer whose r?sum? is already decorated with numerous awards, e.g., the William Trevor Prize, Keegan here offers a first collection of tough-minded stories. Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.

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