Name: Salt Modern Stories Number: 11
With this new collection the acclaimed novelist Christopher Burns proves his mastery of the short story form. His intelligent but conflicted characters face their decisive moments across wide ranges of time and place, each action reshaping their futures and redefining their pasts. Interplaying with these choices are locations that underpin and define each story, such as a repository of unstable nitrate film, a desert outcrop where a daughter vanished, a winter barn in which a silent refugee works without explanation, and a Parisian suicide that echoes down far more than a century.
In these stories, landscape itself can be a determinant, as essential to the narrative as the characters that walk into a draining reservoir, a Neolithic cave, or a remote Greek church. For these are driven people – haunted or determined, alert or unaware, lovers or doubters, saviours or perpetrators.
Several of these stories have previously appeared in publications as diverse as Les Temps Modernes, Granta Shorts, Best British Short Stories, The Time Out Book of New York Stories and Prospect.
Christopher Burns’ work has been praised by Kazuo Ishiguro, Melvyn Bragg, Margaret Drabble, Hilary Mantel and others. He is the author of six novels, including The Flint Bed (shortlisted for the Whitbread award), The Condition if Ice, A Division of the Light, and an earlier collection of short stories, About The Body. He lives in Cumbria.
This is a wholly distinctive, ambitious and challenging collection that can be read again and again.
‘The Flint Bed is a very serious book’ —Peter Campbell, London Review of Books
‘Burns's early outings turned on their psychological sleight-of-hand. People and their preoccupations were what mattered to him: backdrop and incidentals could fade into dust. His new work retains these qualities while adding an extra layer of deviousness.’ —DJ Taylor, Independent
‘Gripping on a narrative level, the book is also a powerful evocation of a bleak, monumental landscape in which humans slither about on their devious business.’ —Michael Dibdin, The Observer
‘A chilling study of a well-intentioned man prised out of seclusion to confront a reality he can only deny – until it is too late … exactly why and how are mysteries that keep the narrative tense with expectation.’ —Judy Cooke, The Guardian
‘Nearly every story has some valedictory touch, some neat shift in perspective that lifts it onto a higher level of engagement … This is a peach of a collection.’ —DJ Taylor, The Independent
‘Christopher Burns’ harsh, beautiful novel employs a number of unforgettable mountaineering images to dig deep into the condition of the European soul on the eve of the war.’ —Kazuo Ishiguro, The Sunday Times ‘Book of the Year’
‘Burns writes with a marvellous lightness of touch … a novel whose living perfection is triumphantly removed from the icy rigidity of its subject.’ —Savkar Altinel, Times Literary Supplement
‘Excellent, exquisitely crafted … One of Britain’s finest writers has written a gripping, many-layered story.’ —Val Hennessy, Daily Mail
‘Offers a precise and deliberately claustrophobic study in obsessions and duplicity.’ —David Profumo, Daily Telegraph
‘Vivid – scene after scene drawn so perfectly … It’s a masterful novel.’ —Melvyn Bragg
‘A Division of Light is a strange brilliant work about photography, sexual obsessions, the human need to leave some indelible mark of having existed in this life before we go into the vast ocean of oblivion.’ —Kazuo Ishiguro