We’ve just started reading Mary Costello’s The China Factory, recently longlisted for the Guardian First Book Award. From the off, it’s clear who Costello’s influences are: Alice Munro, Raymond Carver, Colm Tóibín and maybe even Anne Enright. In fact, in her review of the collection, Enright said:
Like Alice Munro, Costello is not afraid of a good car accident, a cancer diagnosis, the arrival on the scene of a roaring madman.
Costello’s style is clipped, to say the least, and in this first collection she shows the knack for saying a life in one sentence. This is the kind of economic writing of which we’re a fan. The gaps and holes are left up to the reader to fill and the reader’s imagination is nearly king over the writer’s desire to tell how it is or how it went.
Congratulations are due to The Stinging Fly, the independent publisher based in Dublin and run by Declan Meade, who published Costello’s collection. A few years ago The Stinging Fly published the first collection of an emerging story writer called Kevin Barry. Barry went on to publish a novel (City of Bohane; currently undergoing redressing as a graphic novel and a playscript) and a second collection of stories (Dark Lies the Island) with Jonathan Cape. Barry also went on to win the Sunday Times EFG Private Bank Short Story Award 2012. Here he explains how he did it.
Here’s wishing Mary Costello a similar trajectory.