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Dark Lies the Island [Paperback]

Kevin Barry
4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (18 customer reviews)
RRP: 12.99
Price: 10.34 & FREE Delivery in the UK. Details
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Book Description

5 April 2012

A kiss that just won't happen. A disco at the end of the world. A teenage goth on a terror mission. And OAP kiddie-snatchers, and scouse real-ale enthusiasts, and occult weirdness in the backwoods...

Dark Lies the Island is a collection of unpredictable stories about love and cruelty, crimes, desperation, and hope from the man Irvine Welsh has described as 'the most arresting and original writer to emerge from these islands in years'. Every page is shot through with the riotous humour, sympathy and blistering language that mark Kevin Barry as a pure entertainer and a unique teller of tales.

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Product details

  • Paperback: 192 pages
  • Publisher: Jonathan Cape; 1st Edition edition (5 April 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0224090585
  • ISBN-13: 978-0224090582
  • Product Dimensions: 21.2 x 13.6 x 1.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (18 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 330,153 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

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Product Description


"He writes short stories that will satisfy any reader" (Shane Hegarty Irish Times)

"The most exciting Irish short story writer of his generation, one whose best work rivals William Trevor and John McGahern. His language is thrilling: Barry has a Martin Amis-style aversion to writing so much as one dull sentence. Talent this raw and natural simply cannot be taught." (John Burns Sunday Times)

"Kevin Barry's best short stories are like a spade to the face... Short-story writers are often talented phrasemakers, but only the best ensure each phase is as hardworking as it is attractive... Barry earns comparison with the great and shamefully neglected VS Pritchett, whose short stories also employed pronounced comic means for serious, compassionate ends." (Chris Power Guardian)

"Lingers like the best kind of novel." (Metro)

"Reading a short story by Kevin Barry is a bit like listening to a kraut-rock-record from the 1970s. The foundations are built on a solid rhythm. Then every so often, the form veers left-field, unveiling a portal to a world of magic." (Spectator Blog)

Book Description

A new book from the winner of the 2012 Sunday Times/EFG Private Bank Short Story Prize

Inside This Book (Learn More)
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Front Cover | Copyright | Table of Contents | Excerpt | Back Cover
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
12 of 13 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Deliciously dark short stories 2 April 2012
By Ripple TOP 100 REVIEWER
"Dark Lies the Island" is a collection of 13 short stories from the gloriously dark and frequently very funny Kevin Barry. You can probably tell from that, I'm a huge fan of his work. Barry is one of the few writers who can be relied on to make me laugh out loud while reading his books, even when in public places. It can get you strange looks, believe me.

There's no clear theme to the collection, other than a dark take on those, often with fairly sad lives and a frequent, delicious dry humour, particularly in the dialogue of the characters. There's no fancy trickery of writing style here either. Each is a vignette of a life or situation that often leaves the reader wishing this was a longer tale, which is usually a strong sign for a short story.

Inevitably, some work more effectively than others. Stand outs for me were "Wifey Redux", a story of a father's struggle with his 17 year old daughter's emerging sexuality and a cautionary tale that it's probably best to stop reading local graffiti once your child reaches puberty, "Fjord of Killary", a story about a hotel frequented by a superb cast of locals including a man whose only conversational gambit is how long it takes to drive to anywhere, and "Berlin Arkonaplatz - My Lesbian Summer", a story of a young man's summer and sexual awakening at the hands of a Slavic photographer in Berlin.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
I'd rather fallen out of love with short stories, for no apparent reason. Then I tried Dark Lies the Island after a recommendation from a friend. Gone in two sittings and I promptly added the rest of his work to my basket. Some of the stories are truly dark whilst others are as touching as an old Yellow Pages ad. They are ordered perfectly, like the songs on a well thought out album making the collection hang together as a whole. I'm never very keen on comparisons but a couple of other writers did spring to mind - Alan Warner and William Gay who I both really admire. Easily my book of the year. Kevin Barry fully deserves the IMPAC award for which he is currently shortlisted.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
I enjoyed reading this collection of stories about misfits and outcasts (largely) - and some I thought were excellent. Notably, for me 'A Cruelty' practised upon an adult with (probably) learning difficulties. In general, a different take on life, and featuring people and situations I'll remember. That said, the jacket promises that this is a 'darkly humorous' writer. This is something I fear I missed - that well be a personal shortcoming, but do try this first if at all possible, if you are looking for something that matches the 'darkly humorous' tag.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
In this stunning new collection of stories, IMPAC Dublin Award winner Kevin Barry shows his complete mastery of the genre, presenting startling, eye-opening stories of love and loss, hope and despair, and acceptance and resistance. Many of the characters here reflect an almost religious belief that misery need be only temporary if one has the strength and will to search within. The characters spring from the page, face a demon or two, and then retire to small lives lived between the cracks of a larger society. These "unremarkable" people often overcome challenges of universal significance here, giving a resonance and a sense of thematic unity often lacking in other collections.

These are not "easy" or "comfortable" stories. Most of the characters are somewhat "off-kilter," their problems somewhat beyond those of most readers, and their lives more bizarre than most of us readers. Unfortunately, some of these characters are also too weak to see hope; some do not have the energy or desire to change; and some are so dependent on others for their emotional stability that they are not equipped to face the present, much less the future. Barry shows them all as they face turning points in their lives, for better or worse.

"Moving on" becomes a major theme here. Some characters gain new insights, and some do not. In the delicate opening story, "Across the Rooftops," the shy main character meets a woman at a party, and they go up on the roof overlooking Cork. He would like to initiate a relationship, but he does not know how to begin. She appears not to be interested, and as dawn rises, they both come to recognitions. "A Cruelty," shows Donie, a sad and quiet man, only thirty-six, who has taken the Dublin to Sligo train from Boyle Station every morning for the past twenty years.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars almost a five! 5 Aug 2012
The minimal disappointment of the ending of the title story denies the 5-star rating that this collection of zinging short stories really deserves. Kevin Barry writes dialogue like no-one else can, and can summon up whole lives and cultures in choice slim-line prose that cuts no slack. There are memorable mini-tales here that live on long after you've returned it to the library! The Liverpool guys on a real ale train trip to Llandudno? Who would have thought there'd be such subtlety and melancholy contained in such a premise! In fact, their discussions about rating a beer on a scale of 1 to 10 instead of 1 to 5 pertains to this scoring too, and if that were the case, it's a nine!
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars great
Great read , I enjoyed it immensely.. Would advise anyone to buy it if they can.. Great author I think
Published 4 months ago by Cn
4.0 out of 5 stars Some good stories, some a bit samey..
There are some very good stories in this book, especially the one which ends on an uplifting note about young gloom. Read more
Published 6 months ago by Ransen Owen
5.0 out of 5 stars Superb, excellent and on and on
From beginning to end, excellent. Kevin Barry's already the finest Irish writer of today, and he's getting better and better with everything he does.
Published 8 months ago by Val Harris
2.0 out of 5 stars Not getting along with this
I expected more - where is the 'riotous humour and blistering languag'. This reads like a book by a young[male] writer - and I now I feel really pompous for saying that
Published 9 months ago by Hardtoplease
5.0 out of 5 stars A great read
A riveting collection of short stories!
Kevin Barry is a truly refreshingly modern Irish author, I will certainly be reading more of his work.
Published 12 months ago by Amazon Customer
3.0 out of 5 stars Tales of the Irish underbelly
I had heard a lot about this writer so came to this book with high expectation which werent really met. It is as the title suggests a dark read. Read more
Published 13 months ago by Buffalo Bill
5.0 out of 5 stars best new irish writer
best Irish wordsmith 2012.
Looking forward to reading City Of Bohane!
Spread the word this writer brings excitement to the bookstore .
Published 15 months ago by john murray
5.0 out of 5 stars The book of the year (so far) for me.
EXCELLENT! As I expected from Kevin Barry. 'Ernestine and Kit' is probably one of the best short stories I have ever read. It's hilarious. And terrifying! Read more
Published 16 months ago by Catherine Lee
4.0 out of 5 stars Another excellent collection from Kevin Barry
This is a thirteen story collection from Kevin Barry whose previous published works include his Rooney Award winning collection, "There Are Little Kingdoms", and his excellent... Read more
Published 20 months ago by P. McCLEAN
4.0 out of 5 stars Outreach
This is a very readable compilation of short stories. My favourite was in the middle somewhere: "Doctor Sot". Read more
Published 21 months ago by Singapore Relic
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