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Astrayby Emma Donoghue
Synopses & Reviews
A trainer coaxes his beloved elephant onto a ship carrying him to a life of fame. A mother searches for her baby girl, sent away on a train headed west. A teenage soldier wrestles with his conscience far from home.
The fascinating characters who roam the pages of Emma Donoghue's stories have all gone astray. They are emigrants, runaways, drifters, gold miners and counterfeiters, attorneys and slaves. They cross countless borders. They travel for love or money, incognito or under duress.
The celebrated author of Room transports us from Puritan Massachusetts to Revolutionary-era New Jersey, from antebellum Louisiana to a highway in Toronto, lighting up four centuries of wanderings that have profound echoes in the present and offering us a moving meditation on restless times.
"The stories in Donoghue's new collection all come, to varying degrees, from historical records; the author of Room, who studied 18th-century literature at Cambridge, has a gift for reading historical documents and picking out the odd, telling detail. There's the Plymouth Plantation man who accuses his neighbors of indecency, in 'The Lost Seed'; the woman who gives her daughter up for adoption, then writes the Children's Aid Society demanding her return, in 'The Gift'; the Tammany Hall bigwig found to be a woman, in 'Daddy's Girl'; all outlines begging to be filled in. The 14 stories are all short (many too short), and by the time they've set up the circumstances and the era, they're almost done, and we're leaving characters we know as creatures of a time and place rather than individuals. When Donoghue establishes a distinct voice and person, the stories are vivid, curious, and honest: we'll remember the serial Puritan accuser and the young German soldier in revolutionary America long after we've forgotten other characters — like Jumbo the Victorian elephant and his keeper or the men who tried to hold Abraham Lincoln's body for ransom — in stories that are notable more for the historical moments they reconstruct than for the people who inhabit them. Agent: Kathleen Anderson." Publishers Weekly Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
The fascinating characters that roam across the pages of Emma Donoghue's stories have all gone astray: they are emigrants, runaways, drifters, lovers old and new. They are gold miners and counterfeiters, attorneys and slaves. They cross other borders too: those of race, law, sex, and sanity. They travel for love or money, incognito or under duress.
With rich historical detail, the celebrated author of Room takes us from puritan Massachusetts to revolutionary New Jersey, antebellum Louisiana to the Toronto highway, lighting up four centuries of wanderings that have profound echoes in the present. Astray offers us a surprising and moving history for restless times.
About the Author
Born in Dublin in 1969, Emma Donoghue is an Irish emigrant twice over: she spent eight years in Cambridge, England, doing a PhD in eighteenth-century literature before moving to London, Ontario, where she lives with her partner and their two children. She also migrates between genres, writing literary history, biography, and stage and radio plays, as well as fairy tales and short stories. She is best known for her novels, which range from the historical (Slammerkin, Life Mask, The Sealed Letter) to the contemporary (Stir-Fry, Hood, Landing). Her international bestseller Room was a New York Times Best Book of 2010 and a finalist for the Man Booker, Commonwealth, and Orange Prizes. "The Hunt" (from Astray) has been short-listed for the Sunday Times EFG Private Bank Short Story Award, the world's most valuable short story prize.
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