Stories From Other Places
Nicholas Shakespeare’s collected stories take us across oceans and continents into the intimate lives of his characters and the dilemmas and temptations they face. The opening novella, Oddfellows, tells the little-known history of horrifying events that occurred on 1st January 1915 in the Australian outback town of Broken Hill, where, on the citizens’ annual picnic outing, the only enemy attack to happen on Australian soil during World War I took them by surprise.
The other stories range through India, Africa, Argentina, and Canada, and include a magnificent tale of civic folly which sees an unreliable young councillor from the Bolivian mining town of Oruro lose himself in the seductions of Paris while trying to commission a bronze statue of his local hero. All of them demonstrate Shakespeare’s talent for insight and drama, and his fascination with connection and disconnection and cultural misunderstanding.
What the critics are saying:
One of Britain’s finest writers… I do not expect to read a more formidable piece of short fiction this year.
Eight nuggets of pure, bold storytelling.
In each story Shakespeare brilliantly transports us to other places, times, cultures and communities, but for all their differentness and exotic heat and dust, in essence they are places we know only too well.
Shakespeare has mined, shaped and polished one of the most superb literary gems I have read in recent times. Only John Boyne’s The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas comes close. Facts and fiction merge in this riveting and relevant work. In a word … brilliant!
A spare, brilliantly evocative tale of the outback jihadis and the attack most of us have never heard of. A slight but powerful book and Shakespeare immersedhimself in the time and place to write the story. Recent terrorist attacks have, sadly, accentuated the fact Shakespeare’s story is a timely one.
Nicholas Shakespeare has created a slim, sensitive and simply beautiful novella. He writes with exquisite restraint of the yearning, ignorance, hope and hopelesness of life in the wartime mining town. It is history it seems we’ve been doomed to repeat.
Shakespeare captures this historical moment beautifully and in elegant prose creates a complex inner life for Rosalind, who is a wonderfully drawn character. It’s a fascinating story, however, and skilfully told. It is also timely. Because the story Shakespeare tells resonates so deeply with current tensions, it is weightier than its length might suggest.
What a strange and enticing story, told with a great sense of escalating tension but also in a somewhat detached manner. Here is an account of the only enemy attack on Australian soil during World War I. It happens in Broken Hill during the annual picnic day in 1915. Its short and yet very meaty. Love this.