Buy The Shieling by David Constantine HERE
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What is it?
The Shieling is a collection of short stories by award-winning writer David Constantine. Born in Salford in 1944, David worked for thirty years as a university teacher of German language and literature. His four short story collections are Back at the Spike, the highly acclaimed Under the Dam (Comma, 2005), The Shieling (Comma, 2009), which was shortlisted for the 2010 Frank O’Connor International Short Story Award, and Tea at the Midland (Comma 2012). Constantine’s story ‘Tea at the Midland’ won the BBC National Short Story Award 2010, and the collection as a whole won the Frank O’Connor International Short Story Award in 2013.
David’s short story ‘In Another Country’ has been adapted into ’45 Years’ – a major film, directed by Andrew Haigh and starring Tom Courtenay & Charlotte Rampling for which Rampling was nominated for an Oscar for Best Actress. He is also author of a novel, The Life-Writer, which was published in 2015 alongside In Another Country: Selected Stories, to mark the release of ’45 Years’, the film, in the UK. The Life Writer is published in North America by Biblioasis and was named one of The New York Times 100 Notable Books of 2016.
The Sheiling collection of stories was shortlisted for the 2010 Frank O’Connor International Short Story Award. The characters in this remarkable collection are united by an urge to absent themselves, to abscond from the intolerable pressures of normal life and withdraw into strange ideas, political causes, even private languages. Viewed from without, they appear sometimes absurd – like the vicar who starts conversing with the Devil when his wife leaves him – sometimes tragic – like the vision of a suicide being fished out of the River Irwell. Such is the force of Constantine’s compassion, however, we cannot help but follow each character deep into their isolation. And the further we descend, through the strata of each personal history, the ever-changing landscapes that bear down upon them, the more remarkable the discovery, at very bottom, that glimmers of redemption abide; like the babbling springs uncovered in the scars of a quarry that will one day heal it with a lake, or the secret haven of the title story, offering more than physical refuge, but a safe-house for dreams.
Why this book?
The Reader has said of David he is “Perhaps the finest of contemporary writers in this form” and at the time of it’s publication, The Independent said of this collection it was “so good I’ll be surprised if there’s a better collection this year…” This is just some of the praise this book and David have received from critics and fans over the years.
We chose this book to feature in our sale because David Constantine is one of our most well-known and loved writers, and with the success of The Life-Writer in the UK and the US in the last year, we wanted to celebrate by introducing more readers to his fantastic work.
Who should you buy this for?
Huffington Post said of David Constantine, he is “one of Britain’s most underrated writers (…) his balance of the lyrical and the sparse echoes John Williams, James Salter and John McGahern” – so anyone who is a fan of these big American and Irish writers will find a kindred spirit with Constantine. Perhaps fans of David’s novels who have yet to experience his masterful wielding of the short story form to tell his tales would also enjoy this as a gift.
Also in terms of the themes of the collection, it is very much about escape, and so if for you, Christmas is perhaps a time when you want to decamp big family gatherings, office parties and lose yourself in fictional character, there is no better collection of stories for you than The Shieling.
Still not convinced? Here’s an extract from the opening of the title story, ‘The Shieling’:
They invented a place. It was far away from here, indeed from anywhere, high up, at the limits, like a shieling. He particularly liked the word ‘shieling’. A bare place, as far up the valley as you could go and the house itself very simple. In reality such dwellings, the shielings, are only for habitation in the summer, the brief summer; but theirs they allowed themselves to proof almost snugly against the winter months. In winter, the long winter, this place of their invention would be needed most.
Buy the anthology for just £6 (RRP £9.99) HERE