“This is an exemplary collection illustrating the creative possibilities of the short fiction form… All the stories allowed me to feel the emotional intensity of a range of characters as they stand at pivotal moments in their lives in the aftermath of personal tragedy. This is due, I believe, to the innate understanding that Graham has for the ‘stuff’ of the short story: suggestion rather than statement; rising tension rather than high drama; the power of the unsaid; and the realisation that endings are not neat and tidy and tied up!” Jane Fraser (The Lonely Crowd)
“a kind of clarity of languag… that rings off the page… a voice that feels completely new and fresh… Graham’s language has a searing quality yet also a humour about it that is genuinely hard to forget long after reading. Very highly recommended – I can’t wait to see what she does next.” Kate Hamer (The Lonely Crowd)
Prof Diana Wallace researches women’s writing, with special interests in historical fiction; Welsh writing in English and Modernism and the Gothic. She is co-director of the Centre for Gender Studies in Wales and Leader of the English Research Unit at the University of South Wales. Her review appears on the website of the Centre for the Study of Media and Culutre in Small Nations at the University of South Wales.
How can writers respond to sudden, even exponential, change? It can take a decade, as it did after the first world war or 9/11, for novels and memoirs to catch up as writers process traumatic events. And readers, time-pressed and battered by 24-hour news, may turn to genre fiction for the comfort of familiar plot lines and predictable endings. The short story, on the other hand, can turn on a sixpence to give us a snapshot of our crises in real time. Compressed, intense, often challenging, some of the most powerful examples of the form have come from writers on the so-called margins: women, immigrants, people from ‘small nations’ such as Wales and Ireland.
Angela Graham’s assured and compelling debut collection, A City Burning, ranges across Wales, Northern Ireland and Italy. It offers 26 brief stories, most no more than a few pages (one a mere page and a quarter), which turn their forensic flashlight on a moment of change when a character has to make a choice. Continue reading Review of ‘A City Burning’ by Prof Diana Wallace→
I read an extract from the story Coasteering in which a middle-aged woman and her Ulster Scots-speaking coasteering instructor venture far out along the coast at twilight:
‘Dinnae ower-think it!’ Alec urged, and then repeated himself….
I loosened the cuffs of the waterproof jacket that added a layer to the battered old wetsuit he’d provided. Seawater gushed out past my wrists. I poised myself, leapt − an un-timeable gap − and was smothered in crashing bubbles and noise and resistance, then broke upwards into air and the push and pull of the sea. This was what I’d wanted, to be out beyond the little beaches and rock-strewn shores; to be out of my depth but safe; to be gripped by the sea’s power but not at its mercy. I respect the sea. I fear it….Continue reading On ‘Your Place And Mine’, BBC Radio Ulster→
As her debut short story collection A City Burning, is published, we interview Angela Graham to find out more about the book and what inspires her.
In the twenty-six stories in A City Burning, set in Wales, Northern Ireland and Italy, children and adults face, in the flames of personal tragedy, moments of potential transformation. On the threshold of their futures each must make a choice: how to live in this new ‘now’. With a virtuoso control of tone, by turns elegiac, comic, lyrical, philosophical, A City Burning examines power of all types. The result is a deeply human book full of hauntingly memorable characters and narratives.
What is the meaning behind the title A City Burning?
In the opening story, ‘The Road’, a young girl witnesses her city blazing. She understands that this is a sign of the collapse of the status quo, of all the usual certainties. She is confronted with the need to react to this new situation. What values should guide her in this choice? I realised that this story encapsulates the theme of many stories in the collection – witnessing major change and having to work out a response. It seemed a fitting title for the book.
26 short stories set in Wales, Northern Ireland and Italy, from the end of the econd World War to the Covid pandemic.
With a virtuoso control of tone, by turns elegiac, comic, lyrical, philosophical, A City Burning examines power of all types, exploring conflicts between political allegiances; between autonomy and intimacy; emotional display and concealment; resistance versus acceptance. The result is a deeply human book full of hauntingly memorable characters and narratives.
This beautiful-to-handle, easy-on-the-eye, large-format book from Black Bough Poetry has been produced by a team and assembling a coherent team is a skill in itself. The members are:
” Welsh writer, Laura Wainwright, Louisiana’s former Laureate, Jack Bedell, and Aotearoa’s, Ankh Spice. The amazing illustrations are by Rebecca Wainwright, a Newport-born artist from Newport in Wales, now living in London. Music for this project is composed and curated by Brisbane-based Stuart Rawlinson.”
Deep Time volume 2, is Black Bough poetry’s second print anthology. It is dedicated to the writer Robert Macfarlane, who wrote award-winning non-fiction work, Underland (2019).
“This is an exemplary collection illustrating the creative possibilities of the short fiction form” – Jane Fraser
“Angela Graham is a brilliant new voice. This is literature that deserves to last.” – Kate Hamer
“Angela Graham’s debut collection A City Burning announced a confident, stylish new voice in short fiction.” Jon Gower (Nation Cymru)
“In this powerful collection, Angela Graham shows herself master of the angle of vision: her tales capture the mercurial moment when a person’s world is changed forever, in a road or room, against a landscape, seascape or starscape, at the graveside or (as in the towering story, ‘Life-Task’) at a forsaken railway station in the aftermath of war.” – Stevie Davies