Dark Lies the Island

Dark Lies the Island
Kevin Barry

Winner of the Sunday Times Short Story Award for "Beer Trip to Llandudno"
Publishers Weekly Top Ten Fiction pick for Fall 2013

About the Book

An award-winning collection from the author of City of Bohane, which was hailed by Pete Hamill as “full of marvels” (The New York Times Book Review)
A wickedly funny and hugely original collection of stories about misspent love and crimes gone horribly wrong. In the Sunday Times Short Story Award-winning “Beer Trip to Llandudno,” a pack of middle-aged ale fanatics seeking the perfect pint find more than they bargained for. A pair of sinister old ladies prowl the countryside for a child to make their own. And a poet looking for inner calm buys an ancient inn on the west coast of Ireland but finds instead rancorous locals and catastrophic floodwaters. Kevin Barry’s dazzling language, razor-sharp ear for the vernacular, and keen eye for the tragedies and comedies of daily life invest these tales with a startling vitality. Dark Lies the Island was shortlisted for the Frank O’Connor International Short Story Award, and as one of the most acclaimed collections in Europe in many years, it heralds the arrival of a new master of the short story.

Additional Reviews

"This collection is subtler, more poetic and more disturbing [than City of Bohane]. It reveals the menace of everyday life. . . . By the end of a story, Barry has me in full sympathy with someone I might edge away from on the train. His regard for characters big and small and capactiy to be funny without playing them for cheap laughs recalls George Saunders."—The New York Times Book Review
"[Kevin Barry] isn't sparing with his powers. Even his throwaway lines are keepers. . . . What makes this book such a satisfying read is that his memorable sentence-writing is in the service of well-constructed, moving stories."The New York Times
A New York Times Book Review Editors' Choice
"If these tales are built around marginalized figures, there's nothing uniform about Barry's storytelling voice. He does humor. He does high drama. He even dabbles in horror (of a kind). And he can handle just about any other narrative form you might think of. . . . If City of Bohane earned Barry a modicum of global literary stardom . . . this collection leaves no doubt that he's earned all that's come his way. Deeply humane and immensely funny, Dark Lies the Island is another testament to his many talents."—Star Tribune (Minneapolis)
“Stealthy and shimmering. . . . Darkness abounds in these 13 stories, though it takes its different forms: vileness, foreboding, ignorance, isolations, self-delusion, despair. . . . Dark Lies the Island is often playful, comic, even gently so.”The Boston Globe
Library Journal Best Indie Fiction of 2013
"Barry is a prose wizard whose stories pulse on the page with all the humor and viciousness of life itself."—Sam Lipsyte, The Millions
"The writing is spectacular, alternately stately and hurried, occasionally clipped but never languid, steeped in the vernacular but never lacking precision, and very often pulsing with the rhythm of iambic pentameter. Smashing, compulsively readable stuff: Barry will be a household name, and soon."Booklist, starred review
"There are a lot of pleasures to be had in Barry's short story collection. First, there's his way with language—a bent form of Irish that makes the most mundane language, like those of the mileage-obsessed locals at the hotel bar in "Fjord of Killary," somehow hilarious. Then there's the pleasure of safely spending time in the company of people you might well cross the street to avoid. . . . the island and its inhabitants aren't doing well, and Barry is a master at showing both the darkness and the piercing moments of humor and self-knowledge that now and then penetrate it."Publishers Weekly, starred review
"Barry offers a second story collection that offers all the best qualities of his IMPAC award-winning debut novel, City of Bohane—the dark humor, apt characterization, and sharply condensed emotion, so well contained by the beautiful sentences."—Library Journal, starred review
“At the risk of indulging in cultural stereotypes, Barry is Irish: when he writes a story, he tells a story, and he’s not afraid of a sentimental ending, if one presents itself. Along the way, he takes . . . contagious pleasure in his flawed, incorrigible people.”The Paris Review
"[Kevin Barry] has a singular voice and imagination. . . . Satire is something Barry excels at as he zeroes in on the hilarity and the dangers—especially the dangers—of small-town Irish ennui and insularity. . . . Dark Lies the Island achieves what any good story collection strives to, displaying Barry's vast range of talent and writerly moods."—Irish America Magazine
"The collection is marked by Barry’s playful style, whose central tension emerges through its contrast with the atmosphere of his stories’ settings. He shows a perceptible love for the conventions of Irish literature without being bound by them, exhibiting a capacity for rhythmic and lyrical prose like Colm Toibin . . .  along with equal aptitude for Flann O’Brien’s deadpan absurdity. . . . The texture of Irish lives portrayed in this collection is familiar and truthful, even when the characters are larger and stranger than life."The Barnes & Noble Review

"Barry's writing is a marvel: it is immoderate, probing, alive and lyrical, a cross between Roddy Doyle and Patrick McCabe. He plumbs his characters' lives and finds the nuances of everyday pathos and humor. . . . Dark Lies the Island is an exceptional collection by one of the most talented Irish writers of his generation."Shelf Awareness, starred review
“[Dark Lies the Island] shares the virtues that made Bohane such an astonishment—prose that rollicks and judders and constantly delights; a keen ear for the spoken language of Barry’s native western Ireland; and above all . . . a way of lassoing moments of mystery that have the power to transform the lives of Barry’s characters, a motley Irish medley of disturbed young women, devious old spinsters, blocked poets, thugs, boozers, exiles, and tortured civil servants. There is rich music, high humor, and deep blackness on every page. . . . You must read this impossibly gifted, unspeakably lovely Irish writer.”The Millions
These stories are breathtaking, death-defying feats. . . . Brilliant."—Washington Independent Review of Books
Pick [it] up, and you’ll be glad you did. . . . Remarkable."—Huffington Post
[The stories display] an impressive linguistic dexterity and an overriding sense of gothic malevolence. . . . Stingingly felt.”The Daily Beast
"It's a wonderful book packed with glinting comedic observations, sentences that run through you like electric shocks, and characters it's tough to get enough of."Guernica Magazine, Favorite Books from 2013
"A collection that both entertains and rewards rereading."A Trip to Ireland
“Dramatic, powerful, and frequently bizarre, this collection is just as often sensitive, delicate, and even subtle. Lovers of the short story will celebrate Barry’s latest achievement, one which shows all his talents to their greatest effect.”Seeing the World Through Books
These are some of the best short stories I've read in a while. . . .I marked many, many good lines, rhythmic and witty and wise, begging to be read aloud.”F5
“Just read the first two stories of this excellent collection and you will find yourself unable to put it down. Fresh off the heels of his remarkable first novel, City of Bohane, Kevin Barry lights it up with stories that are sharp, heart-wrenching, and joyous at the same time.”—Cody Morrison, Square Books
“The stories in Dark Lies the Island are hilarious and terrifying, but above all they are marked by a unique tenderness. . . . These stories vibrate with the genuine weirdness of life until they mutate, take flight, or explode.”—Casey O'Neil, Elliott Bay Bookstore
“These stories have been spun with rapacious wit and fire. Kevin Barry stands in the depths of human wildness and creates beauty from the snarl of death, every time. Dark Lies the Island kills and resurrects.” —Austen Jennings, Lemuria Bookstore
“The stories in Dark Lies the Island are perfect shining examples of the art of the short story. They sit on a shelf at my house next to the best writers of short stories—Jack London, T. C. Boyle, and Connie Willis to name just three. Buy this book, you will not be disappointed.”—Martin Sorensen, Green Apple Books
"Dark, blunt, sometimes even sinister, but always poignant, witty, and even humorous, these stories cut deep and stay with you. I want more.”—Nick Berg, Boswell Book Company
Dark Lies the Island is a superb collection of short stories about Irish men and women in their homeland or living abroad. Character-driven, the stories are always moving, sometimes funny, sometimes downright scary. Barry is a master at analyzing his characters' intense personal emotions and their transformative powers.”—Pierre Camy, Schuler Books & Music
“Crackles with intelligence, wicked humor, and the woes of modern life. . . . The stories brim with humor and lines so quotable they demand to be read again. Barry puts a beating heart into each of these stories, a collection that is a must for fans of Irvine Welsh and V.S. Pritchett.”—Mark Haber, Brazos Bookstore

Dark Lies The Island is at times hilarious, always gripping, and shocking in the details of lives at the margins of society.”—The Intentional

“The reigning prince of punctuation, the king of conveying the Irish voice. . . . Barry’s is certainly a beautiful, broken, and strange world.”Electric Literature
"Irish lyricism shines throughout the collection. . . . Barry writes stories that are character-driven, archetypical yet magnetic, pushing toward realism's edge where genre becomes irrelevant."Kirkus Reviews
“[Barry’s] sentences have a pyrotechnic immediacy.”The Eagle